Who makes decisions about aviation?

Aviation is a federal government matter. There are a number of agencies involved in decision-making about aviation.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development advises the federal government on the policy and regulatory framework for Australian airports and the aviation industry, and provides policy advice to the Minister on matters such as the efficient management of our airspace and aircraft noise.

One of the Department’s responsibilities on behalf of the government is to negotiate and administer agreements with other countries to allow their carriers to fly in and out of Australia.  This includes aspects such as the routes these carriers can fly, how many flights can be operated, capacity, safety and security.  The Department also licenses Australian and foreign international carriers.  Once licensed, all carriers require ongoing approval of their timetables in order to operate international services to or from Australia.  Once such agreements have been concluded at government level, individual airports are responsible for determining which airlines and freight companies may fly in and out of their airport, and when.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is the Australian safety regulator.  It sets down rules that pilots, aircraft operators and air traffic controllers must comply with.

Airservices is an air navigation services provider, providing air traffic control and airport firefighting and rescue services to the airlines.  Airservices also designs flight paths in controlled airspace and is responsible for managing complaints about aircraft noise.  The Air Services Act states that Airservices must have regard to the safety of air navigation as its most important consideration.  Subject to this, Airservices must perform its functions so that, as far as practicable, the environment is protected from the effects associated with the operation and use of aircraft.

Airservices manages the movement of aircraft so that noise impacts on communities are minimised as much as possible.  Airservices looks for the best possible noise outcomes for the community when designing flight paths and seeks opportunities to improve existing noise outcomes.  While there is a focus on exploring noise improvement opportunities, making or implementing change is difficult.   We are committed to making noise improvements if they uphold safety as our number one priority, are operationally feasible and do not simply shift the noise from one part of the community to another.

Other businesses and organisations also play a role in aircraft noise management.  Aircraft operators ensure their aircraft are compliant with noise standards and implement noise abatement principles for flight operations.  Airports develop noise management plans and manage local community engagement, while state and local governments manage land-use planning around airports.

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