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The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter. As of April 2020 Uplink ALPA is a 6-monthly publication.

CAA Sector Risk Profile for Part 135 Air Operations – Helicopters and Small Aeroplanes

By Dave Reynolds NZALPA Senior Technical Officer 

Risk profiling is used in aviation and other safety-critical industries, to identify risks and take actions to reduce the likelihood of their occurrence or severity. Aviation safety regulators such as the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority - and nearer to home, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority - have used the process together with safety management systems (SMS), to effectively facilitate both the participant and the regulator working collaboratively to identify and reduce risk. 

Sector risk profiles and their relation to safety management systems 

An important aspect of a sector risk profile (SRP) is that it recognises that the participants in the sector are best placed to evaluate the risks that they face.

SRPs involve gathering the views, experience and perceptions of those in the sector, considering objective data, studies and other factual information, and combining these to form a series of ‘risk statements’ and themes. These, together with their agreed level of severity, then form an overall ‘risk profile’– in this case for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) Part 135 Air Operations in New Zealand. 

Once the overall risk profile is agreed then the regulator (in this case CAA) and sector participants (in this case certificate holders, airports, training providers, maintenance providers and industry associations such as NZALPA) work together to mitigate or ideally remove any identified risks. The objective is to reduce accident and incident rates as well as the associated costs to the sector. 

In New Zealand, the CAA began its work on an SRP for the sector back in 2015 when it commissioned Navigatus to produce a report (read HERE). Meaningful work began in 2017 with a series of workshops facilitated by Pricewaterhouse Cooper. These focused on updating the 2015 SRP whilst ensuring that both the CAA and stakeholders engaged fully and collaboratively in the process to also produce risk ratings and actions and that these actions were ‘owned’. Based on workshop outcomes the CAA then produced an ‘Action and Implementation Plan’ where the actions to be completed by participants were clarified (read HERE). On 18 March this year a further workshop was held where progress on the plan was discussed, any subsequent related issues identified, CASA’s related work reviewed and earlier agreed ‘Risk Themes’ refined.

The earlier 2015 SRP work had identified 15 ‘Risk Themes’. During the 2017 workshops these were refined to nine and which are (in no particular order):

Unfortunately, although the SRP process has brought both regulator and stakeholders together to agree on the issues in a structured manner, progress on actually addressing most of the identified issues remains frustratingly slow. Unsurprisingly the main stumbling blocks are logistics and funding for both regulator and stakeholders alike. I suspect, however, that this is not a major surprise to many within the sector. Part 135 and in particular helicopter safety are major concerns and action is needed if we are to stem, let alone reduce, accident rates. Let us hope that the logistics and funding are found soon so as to allow the SRP process to deliver all that it promised.



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