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Australia's State Aviation Safety Programme

3. State safety assurance

3.1 Surveillance obligations

Surveillance is the mechanism by which CASA monitors the ongoing safety status and maturity of authorisation holders.

CASA's oversight components include:

  • Qualified and trained technical staff—with specific training in relation to SMS;
  • Documented procedures and guidance—for approval, surveillance and associated safety processes;
  • Licensing, certification, authorisation and approval; and
  • Surveillance activities—including regular planned and unplanned audits and inspections, data collection and exchange, analysis, workflow management and information management.

CASA is moving to establish its categorisation and safety regulatory policies with a safety oversight risk management hierarchy that aligns with ICAO categorisation models of Air Transport, Aerial Work and General Aviation.

CASA has expanded on the core ICAO categories through the development of an ‘Australian aviation community sector’ profile to also include flight training, airworthiness management, and infrastructure and services.

The primary objective of conducting surveillance is to determine whether an authorisation holder is fulfilling their obligations under the Civil Aviation Act 1988 and regulations. CASA adopts a systems and risk-based surveillance approach, utilising product checks as required, to assess the risk mitigation and compliance levels of authorisation holders.

Surveillance assesses an authorisation holder's ability to manage its safety risks and willingness to comply with legislation including compliance with a SMS if needed. It may be scheduled or unscheduled, opportunity based, random or targeted across all facets of the aviation industry. This approach to surveillance aims to encourage the development of authorisation holders’ systems and guide the aviation industry to better understand its responsibility for safety.

The surveillance programme is regularly reviewed and updated.

The CASA surveillance Manual can be found on CASA's website.

Safety-data-driven targeting

The safety data collected by Australia's aviation agencies is regularly reviewed, analysed and reported for the purpose of identifying trends, emerging safety issues and assisting with addressing existing safety issues.


Part of CASA's core function is the monitoring of safety performance and identification of safety related trends and risk factors, taking into account international safety developments.

CASA's oversight of Australian operators

CASA's surveillance framework allows for prioritisation of surveillance activities based on known information and focusses on assessing the effectiveness of an authorisation holder in managing systems risk.

CASA's Surveillance Manual details scheduling of audits based on a number of indicators.

CASA has established Surveillance Priority Review Group meetings monthly in its offices responsible for safety oversight to manage surveillance planning and prioritisation.

CASA's oversight of foreign operators

International passenger and dedicated freight airlines operate scheduled and non-scheduled services to and from Australia.

In accordance with Australia's commitments as an ICAO contracting State, CASA conducts a ramp inspection programme of these foreign airlines.

This oversight is carried out in accordance with the CASA Surveillance Manual.


The ATSB investigates aviation accidents and incidents, and collects safety data through both mandatory and voluntary reporting schemes.

The ATSB uses this data to determine how prevalent certain types of occurrences are in different types of aviation operations, and proactively look for emerging safety trends. By monitoring trends, issues of concern can be communicated and action taken to prevent accidents.

Proactive trend monitoring is a data-driven process, reviewing all occurrences to see if there are subtle changes that may point to a larger issue.

Potential issues are then monitored by ATSB, and shared with industry and other government agencies. Safety actions can then be taken by the most appropriate people to prevent these issues resulting in accidents.

These trends can also point to the need for ATSB to target particular types of occurrences for investigation. ATSB publishes regular reports on the emerging trends in aviation safety.

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Last Updated: 10 May, 2016