Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority is proposing to remove a recent requirement to include basic instrument flight training (BIFT) to obtain an initial private or commercial helicopter license. The BIFT requirement was added when the country’s CAA Part 61 was modified to align with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards. As an interim measure, however, basic helicopter flight training without BIFT continues under transitional regulations that end on Aug. 31, 2018.
“While there is a trend to more IFR operations, the sector continues to be dominated by small Robinson helicopters conducting VFR operations,” officials said. “Robinson R22s and R44s make up approximately half of the helicopter fleet, and most lack the necessary instruments for BIFT.” Also, most training aircraft are not currently equipped for instrument flight training. Mandatory instrument training experience would incur “significant cost and operational penalties.” Additionally, the number of flight simulation training devices (FSTDs) is increasing, “which will expand the future opportunity for FSTD-based training, including BIFT.”
The proposal has the full support of the Australian Helicopter Industry Association and helicopter training operators. The helicopter industry has indicated that the issue of a license with a remark indicating non-compliance with ICAO standards would be acceptable. Comments on the proposal are due December 3.