What the CAA Investigates

What the CAA Investigates


So how does the CAA decide what to investigate with its limited resources?

There are a few things it will definitely investigate – fatal accidents (other than those being investigated by TAIC), and those things required under the Civil Aviation Act 1990.

In January 2016, the Director of Civil Aviation, Graeme Harris, identified seven areas the CAA will be focussing its attention on.  They are:

  • loss of control in flight;
  • runway excursions;
  • airborne conflict;
  • the commercial helicopter sector;
  • Queenstown operations;
  • security threat changes; and
  • international air cargo security.

These areas will guide the investigations the CAA undertakes, but are not the only triggers.

Primarily the analysis of trends in occurrences reported will highlight the areas investigators will concentrate on. In addition to this, there may be concerns raised from other operational units within the CAA or simply, the instinct of the experienced investigators and analysts will come into play.

Of particular interest are those occurrences which have a perceived impact on the aviation system, or part of it, for example, a spate of microlight landing occurrences. They are particularly concerned when the system of safeguards is being challenged.

In addition, it may just be an unusual occurrence that catches their attention.

Insights from Accident Investigation

“We understand there’s an overhead associated with completing reports,” says Jim Burtenshaw, CAA Manager Safety Investigation. “But I can’t stress enough that every piece of information we receive is vital in the big safety picture. To derive maximum value from our system, we need to cultivate a culture of accurate, timely, and complete reporting.

“All reports submitted are put to good use. They are reviewed individually as they are received, then reviewed again collectively in a weekly meeting."

“We use the information on a few different fronts."

“If the data from one operator shows an emerging trend, then chances are other operators are running into similar issues. When there’s a perceived risk, we give other operators a heads-up regarding the emerging trend, while maintaining confidentiality of the original reporter’s name and company."

“We also use reports to determine where breaches in the safety system are manifesting.

“For example, in recent times, a high number of occurrences at a particular aerodrome prompted a CAA safety review. Knowledge of these occurrences allowed us to talk directly to all the parties concerned."

“Occurrences don’t just affect the operator; they have a flow-on effect to others within the aviation system. We spoke with stakeholders, including the aerodrome operator, ATC, user groups, and the local council. Work to reduce these occurrences is ongoing, but has so far proved beneficial,” says Jim.

Full Vector article here.