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CASA Adopts ICAO Recommendations To Protect Safety Data Sources

Australia’s CASA implementing ICAO rules to encourage disclosure of safety problems by better protecting sources.

Printed headline: Secret Identity

The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is updating regulations and guidance to conform to updated International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recommendations limiting the use of safety reporting data. ICAO member states are expected to adopt Amendment 1 to the Chicago Convention Annex 19 by the time it goes into effect in November. The revisions will refine CASA’s approach to the protection of reported data, expanding the definition of safety information to include source identity.

CASA is seeking feedback on its proposed changes to reporting provisions contained in Civil Aviation Orders (CAO) 82.3 and 82.5. The revisions would expand protections to all safety data (the current CAOs limit protection to data collected through a flight-data analysis program) and restrict the availability of the reporter’s identity. The changes would also make guidance consistent with CASA’s “just culture” philosophy, adopted to guard against discouraging reporting through punitive action.

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Revised guidance material seeks to increase disclosure of safety information by protecting sources.

The proposal specifically prohibits an operator from using safety reporting data as the basis for disciplinary measures, or to disclose the reporter’s identity to anyone outside the operator’s organization (unless otherwise required by law or when the named individual consents). Exceptions are provided for instances where an occurrence was cause by gross negligence, recklessness or willful misconduct; where the data is “reasonably considered to be necessary for maintaining or improving aviation safety”; or when the benefits of releasing the protected information outweigh the negative impact the disclosure could have on future reporting.

The approach is not new—data reporting protections were extended in 2017 as a matter of CASA policy, with the publication of Directive 02-0053. The proposed CAO revision transitions those policy directives to implementation guidance material.

Safety data protections will find a temporary home in the CAOs; the interim solution is necessary to bridge the gap between the ICAO Amendment and the migration of CASA regulations from the Civil Aviation Regulations (CAR) to the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations (CASR). The provisions will eventually land in CASR Part 119, when that regulation goes into effect in 2021. The protections are also expected to appear in CASR Part 5, Safety Management.

The comment period closed Oct. 22. The revised CAOs were expected to go into effect on Nov. 7.

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