Commonwealth Numbered Regulations - Explanatory Statements

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Statutory Rules 1996 No. 88

(Issued by the authority of the Minister for Transport and Regional Development)

Civil Aviation Act 1988

Civil Aviation Regulations (Amendment)

Subsection 98 (1) of the Civil Aviation Act 1988 (the Act) provides that the Governor-General may make regulations for the purposes of the Act and in the interests of the safety of air navigation.

Regulation 252A of the Civil Aviation Regulations (the Regulations) provided that on and after 1 July 1996 most Australian aircraft must not begin a flight unless fitted with an emergency locator transmitter (ELT) meeting one of two specified technical standards (TSO C91 a and TSO C126). Exemptions from the requirement were provided for:

*       high capacity aircraft engaged in regular public transport operations;

*       balloons, airships and gliders;

*        aircraft flying to a place where an ELT can be fitted, repaired or overhauled;

*       aircraft flying within 25 miles of the aerodrome from which the flight started, or in a training area associated with that aerodrome.

Following extensive consultation with the aviation industry, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) decided that this requirement was too restrictive. About 30% of aircraft in the Australian fleet are fitted with ELTs meeting the TSO C91 standard. CASA decided that it is not necessary to require these ELTs to be replaced with ELTs meeting the newer standards until they become unserviceable. CASA also decided that there are other kinds of aircraft and flights which should be exempted from the requirement. These changes bring the Australian ELT requirement generally into line with the requirement imposed by the Federal Aviation Regulations in force in the United States of America.

In accordance with government policy, portable ELTs, portable emergency position indicating radio beacons and personal locator beacons are to be permitted to be carried in aircraft in place of fixed, automatically activated ELTs. These ELTs and beacons must meet a specified Ministerial Standard issued under the Radiocommunications Act 1983, a specified standard jointly issued by Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand or a specified standard issued by the Federal Aviation Administration of the USA. Although the Ministerial Standards and the standards jointly issued by Standards Australia and Standards New Zealand are expressed to encompass the physical characteristics of position indicating devices as they pertain to maritime and land use and not to apply to equipment used for aeronautical purposes, the Government believes that equipment that meets these standards is suitable for such purposes.

The Government has further decided that, in order to allow Australian manufacturers time to produce ELTs and beacons that meet the new regulatory requirements and to obtain the necessary standards certification, the new requirements should not become effective until 31 July 1997.

The regulations amend the Regulations to repeal regulation 252A and replace it with a new regulation 252A. New regulation 252A differs from the previous requirement in the following ways:

*       it provides for portable ELTs, and portable emergency position indicating radio beacons, meeting specified standards to be carried in aircraft in place of fixed, automatically activated ELTs;

*       it provides that the date on which this requirement becomes effective is 31 July 1997;

*       it provides additional exceptions for aircraft engaged in agricultural operations, aircraft flying in accordance with CASA's permission under regulation 134 of the Regulations, high capacity charter aircraft, single seat aircraft, turbojet-powered aircraft and flights associated with the manufacture, preparation and delivery of new aircraft;

*       it provides an additional exception for an aircraft that has had its ELT removed for maintenance or replacement within the last 90 days;

*        it provides an exception for flights that take place within 50 miles of the departure aerodrome;

*       it requires any lithium-sulphur dioxide battery used in an ELT to meet a specified standard,

*       it provides that a TSO C91 ELT fitted to an aircraft meets the requirement only if it was fitted before 5 December 1996.

Regulation 252A only prohibits persons from beginning a flight in an aircraft that does not have a functioning ELT. It does not require an aircraft to land if its ELT stops functioning during a flight.

The regulations commenced on gazettal.

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