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CIVIL AVIATION AMENDMENT REGULATIONS 2008 (NO. 2) (SLI NO 238 OF 2008)
Select Legislative Instrument 2008 No. 238
Issued under the authority of the
Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government
Civil Aviation Amendment Regulations 2008 (No. 2)
Subsection 98(1) of the Civil Aviation Act 1988 (the Act) provides, in part, that the Governor-General may make regulations not inconsistent with the Act, prescribing matters required or permitted by the Act to be prescribed, or necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to the Act.
Subsection 9(1) of the Act specifies, in part, that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has the function of conducting the safety regulation of civil air operations in Australian territory by means that include developing and promulgating appropriate, clear and concise aviation safety standards and issuing certificates, licences, registrations and permits.
Regulation 252A of the Principal Regulations contains requirements associated with the carriage of emergency locator transmitters (ELTs). The previous requirements, in part, mandated the carriage of an ELT for most aircraft operations, excluding a specified list of exempted aircraft and types of operations.
ELTs are distress beacons which are activated following an accident either automatically by embedded electronics, or manually by a pilot or other person. An active beacon is detected by orbiting satellites which transmit a signal to search and rescue coordinators. An international distress alert detection and information distribution system, Cospas-Sarsat, is currently used in Australia to provide satellite-based ELT monitoring services.
Older analogue ELTs operate on frequencies 121.5/243 MHz, while newer digital devices operate in the 406.0 – 406.1 MHz frequency band, and are commonly known as 406 MHz beacons.
The Cospas-Sarsat system will cease processing the 121.5/243 MHz signals from distress beacons on 1 February 2009. Hence, only 406 MHz beacons will be identified by the Cospas-Sarsat system after 1 February 2009.
Cospas-Sarsat made the decision to cease satellite processing at 121.5/243 MHz in response to guidance from International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). These United Nations organisations mandate safety requirements for aircraft and maritime vessels and have recognised the limitations of 121.5/243 MHz beacons and the superior capabilities of the 406 MHz alerting system where the position of the distress can be relayed to rescue services more quickly, more reliably and with greater accuracy, especially when coupled with GPS position data. While the 406 MHz transmission will be essential for satellite monitoring beyond 1 February 2009, a 121.5 MHz component of the transmission is still necessary to assist with the final locating of an activated beacon by search and rescue personnel.
The proposed changes
As part of CASA’s Regulatory Reform Program, a suite of new operational regulations have been in development since 1996. These new regulations form part of the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 (CASRs), and will replace the Principal Regulations and the Civil Aviation Orders. However, at this point in time, the operational suite of regulations, centred around CASR Part 91 – General operating and flight rules, is yet to be finalised and will not become law until after the 1 February 2009 “switchover” of ELT satellite monitoring services.
The joint CASA/industry Standards Consultative Committee has been briefed and notified of CASA’s intention to require 406 MHz ELTs to be carried on all aircraft for which the carriage of an ELT is currently required from 1 February 2009, ahead of the making of the operational suite of CASRs. The Government’s policy in regard to ELTs has also been promulgated to industry by means of website content, and material in the Flight Safety Australia publication since early 2008.
The Regulations continue to allow for the carriage of portable devices (though of the digital 406 MHz variety) such as an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or personal locator beacon (PLB) in lieu of a fixed device.
A Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) Exemption, reference 9618, has been obtained from the Office of Best Practice Regulation (OBPR); the amendments are expected to result in only a low cost to industry.
Details of the Regulations are attached.
The Regulations commence on 1 February 2009.
Civil Aviation Amendment Regulations 2008 (No. 2)
Regulation 1 - Name of Regulations
Regulation 1 provides that the title of the Regulations is the Civil Aviation Amendment Regulations 2008 (No. 2).
Regulation 2 - Commencement
Regulation 2 provides that the Regulations commence on 1 February 2009.
Regulation 3 - Amendment of Civil Aviation Regulations 1988
Regulation 3 provides that Schedule 1 amends the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 (the Principal Regulations).
Schedule 1 - Amendments
Item  - Subregulation 252A (1)
Item  made an editorial amendment to subregulation 252A (1) to remove the unnecessary date of 31 July 1997.
Item  - Subregulation 252A (1), after the penalty
Item  added a Note to subregulation 252A (1) to reinforce that the maintenance requirements for ELTs are contained in Part 4A of the Principal Regulations, and subsection 20AA (4) of the Act.
Item  - Subregulations 252A (4), (5) and (6)
Item  substituted subregulations 252A (4), (5) and (6) with new subregulations to require that an eligible ELT must, if activated, operate in the frequency band 406 – 406.1 MHz and on the frequency 121.5 MHz. It also requires that an eligible ELT be registered with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority. It is an international requirement that 406 MHz beacons be registered with the authority responsible for search and rescue services.
Item  also replaced the superseded technical standards with the most up-to-date standards applicable to the newer 406 MHz beacons.
Item  also made minor editorial amendments to the structure of the subregulations, as well as the terminology used.
Item  - Subregulation 252A (7), definitions of AS/NZS and ELT
Item  substituted the definitions of ‘AS/NZS’ and ‘ELT’ contained in subregulation 252A (7) with updated terminology and technical standards. New definitions for ‘approved ELT’, ‘approved portable ELT’ and ‘eligible ELT’ were included. Additionally, the full name of each AS/NZS standards specified in the amendments is included, as well as the provision for updated AS/NZS standards to be accepted by way of the “as in force from time to time” provision. Incorporation by reference is permitted under section 98 of the Act. Advice from the AGS is that it is possible for a regulation to incorporate by reference a document that does not exist at the time the incorporating regulation is made or commences, as long as, at the time a person must comply with the regulation, the person will be able to readily identify and have access to the document in question.
Item  - Subregulation 252A (7), definition of MS
Item  omitted the definition of ‘MS’. This definition is no longer required as the term was removed from the Principal Regulations by item .
Item  – After subregulation 252A (7)
Item  inserted a new subregulation 252A (8) which provides that a Technical Standard Order (TSO) referred to in the regulation 252A also refers to later versions of the specified TSO by way of the “as in force from time to time” provision. Incorporation by reference is permitted under section 98 of the Act. Advice from the AGS is that it is possible for a regulation to incorporate by reference a document that does not exist at the time the incorporating regulation is made or commences, as long as, at the time a person must comply with the regulation, the person will be able to readily identify and have access to the document in question.