Has CASA Lied? Flight Instructors Beware!

Has CASA Lied? Flight Instructors Beware!

Has CASA Lied? Flight Instructors Beware!

August 7, 2019 By Nicholas Christie
CASA approved Flight Examiner & AOPA Australia Flight Training Contributor DAVID PILKINGTON examines how a little-known CASA instrument may have compromised instructor rights and invalidated endorsements issued, post 'Part 61'.
My guess is that very few instructors would be aware that exercising some instructor rights could be deemed illegal after the transition to Part 61, unless that instructor had conducted additional...

My guess is that very few instructors would be aware that exercising some instructor rights could be deemed illegal after the transition to Part 61, unless that instructor had conducted additional proficiency testing. With the validity of thousands of student endorsements now put into question, the requirement appears to be at odds with CASA’s own assurances that Flight Crew would retain their privileges when Part 61 came into effect in 2014.

While “old” instructors, including myself, transitioned to the new Part 61 licence and were given appropriate training endorsements for flight activities based on our older training approvals, Part 61. CASA 07/17 – Conditions on authorisations — flight crew licences and aircraft endorsements (Edition 2) – requires instructors to undertake additional expensive tests before continuing to exercise some of their existing training approvals.

CASA INSTRUMENT 

Quite rightly, CASA has recognised that “old” instructors may not be current nor competent in the new Part 61 standards but has tackled that with a crude, blunt instrument: CASA 07/17 – Conditions on authorisations — flight crew licences and aircraft endorsements (Edition 2) which may be viewed online at https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2017L00085

The relevant paragraph is:

7.          Condition on an instructor rating

                 It is a condition on an instructor rating that the holder of an instructor rating with a training endorsement may only conduct training for a flight activity endorsement if:

(a)   the holder has demonstrated competency in doing so to a person authorised to conduct a flight test for the relevant training endorsement; and

(b)   the person authorised to conduct the flight test mentioned in paragraph (a) holds the flight activity endorsement.

I only became aware of this instrument when I attended a CASA Flight Instructor Safety Seminar in 2018 – none of the other instructors who were present knew about it either. I can only assume that any instructor who has not been to one of those seminars would also be unaware of it.

For this article, I’ll limit the discussion to spinning and formation flying as those two flight activity endorsements are commonly gained by pilots and illustrate the issues involved with this CASA instrument. Prior to Part 61 these training approvals were granted by another instructor and written in the logbook.

SPIN TRAINING ENDORSEMENT 

Standards for spin training were included in the old Day VFR Syllabus so nothing has changed with Part 61. Furthermore, CASA’s CAAP 155-1 which was issued in 2007 provided further guidance on spinning.

What problem did CASA identify to warrant this validation of the instructor training approval? Part 61 commenced on 1st September 2014 and CASA had been continually saying to us that we would retain our flying privileges so all took that as fact and continued to operate accordingly.

What problem did CASA identify which warranted this immediate test requirement despite there being a transition period of four years for Part 61? There was a lot of new information for flight instructors and many were unaware of this instrument which initially commenced on 1st September 2014.

At a CASA Flight Instructor Safety Seminar that I attended in 2018 the speaker said that it was to “baseline everyone”.

The idea that “old” instructors would be unfamiliar with the standards in the Part 61 MOS is clearly not valid as they have existed for many years. That instructor was considered competent as determined by a Grade 1 instructor such as myself.

At the CASA seminar that I attended the speaker said that “old” instructors would probably not be current so there was a need for this. Well, there are two things wrong with that argument:

  1. Many of us “old” instructors were indeed current up through the transition to Part 61.
  2. What about the new instructors who gained their spin training endorsements under the Part 61 rules? If they don’t exercise it they will also lose currency too however an Instructor Proficiency Check having nought to do with spin training allows them to exercise their spin training endorsement in future.

FORMATION TRAINING ENDORSEMENT 

There were no training standards, knowledge requirements or CASA guidance for formation flying prior to Part 61.

Consider my own formation training endorsement. I was current (even in formation aerobatics) prior to Part 61 and had updated my formation training syllabus to conform to the new Part 61 MOS.

Why would CASA grant me a formation flying training endorsement and require me to effectively do a test with an examiner before I could exercise it?

If they didn’t trust me to update my training syllabus then couldn’t that have been done by a simple online course by CASA?

To demonstrate my competency to a flight examiner I would have to rent two aeroplanes and another pilot to fly with. Flight examiner time is not cheap. I wouldn’t do it without prior practice with that other pilot so there is that additional cost. Altogether the whole exercise was going to be very expensive so I chose not to do it consequently I don’t teach formation flying any more.

DOING THE DEMO 

Some “old” instructors would meet the requirement of this instrument through the routine proficiency check system as I have done. e.g. spinning for one check, aerobatics for the next one two years further on etc. However that would be abnormal for a typical flight instructor as the examiner would probably choose other elements from the suite of competencies to test. In addition, just doing that competency check as a routine proficiency check would introduce a big gap in earning capacity as one must wait two, four or six years before being permitted to teach those flight activities.

A busy flight instructor would want to maintain continuity by knocking off those demonstrations ASAP and that involves significant expense and effort which may not be viable to recover through subsequent training income.

INSTRUCTOR SURVEY 

I did a survey of 23 “old” instructors and found that:

  • Some had become aware of the requirement by attending a CASA seminar in 2018 or been told about it. None were aware of it prior to that. One flying school mandated the examiner demonstration for their flight instructors and paid for their instructors to do it. (13%)
  • One instructor did one activity at a proficiency check and ignored the requirement for other activities. (4%)
  • 17% had taken no action.
  • Many did not respond to me indicating that either they were unaware of the requirement and/or were ignoring it.

ACTU secretary Sally McManus has argued that unions breaking unjust laws is the “only moral path to fairness” and it seems that there are many instructors who are taking that line and ignoring the requirement of the CASA instrument.

I wonder what the outcome of that will be for them and their students. For those instructors who do not ignore it there is significant additional expense with no reason given. Since Part 61 it is much more difficult and expensive for experienced flight activity instructors to remain in the business.

CASA ADVICE TO PILOTS 

Does anyone recall CASA stating this:

“All flight crew will retain their current flying privileges throughout and following the 1 September 2014 transition. For most people, the only noticeable change is that they will be issued a licence in a slightly different format”

Has CASA lied to our flight instructor community?

STUDENT RESPONSIBILITY 

For students – check the MOS yourself, ask to see the syllabus and evidence of instructor qualifications. The CASA instrument is very clear that “old” instructors must not conduct training in that flight activity until they have demonstrated their competency to an examiner – ask to see evidence of it. Remember that you own endorsement is not valid if the instructor is not qualified.


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Nicholas Christie

Nicholas started flying lessons at the age of 13. He holds both Grade 2 (GA) and RAAus Flight Instructor ratings.  Since graduating from Monash University with a Bachelor Business Management (Marketing), he has held various sales, marketing and management positions across a broad range of sectors. Nicholas has written for a variety of aviation magazines in Australia and currently runs his own aviation businesses.  In 2016, Nicholas took on the challenge of building a “slow build” Van’s RV-12, at Tyabb (Victoria) and he has since become an active member of SAAA, AOPA and RAAus.  Nicholas believes that the passion and involvement of people (especially youth) in the aviation community is key to the sector’s future success in Australia and that minimal government regulation will assist in the industry’s continued growth and success.

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