Transportation Security Program (TSP) requirements in Australia for Business Aircraft Operators
Transportation Security Program (TSP) requirements have been a challenge for General Aviation (GA) operators to Australia over recent years. However, practical impact of this regulation has significantly diminished since March 2012. While all previous TSP regulations remain in place, far fewer GA operations to Australia are now covered by TSP requirements. Here’s what you need to know:
1. What an Australian TSP is
A TSP is a legally binding document, submitted for approval to Australian authorities, showing that an aviation operator has an approved TSP in place. The purpose of a TSP is to demonstrate that an operator establishes and maintains a high level of security management in accordance with Australian regulations. Not all business aviation operators are required to have TSPs. However, for any operator falling under the definition of a "prescribed air service," there’s no alternative other than to comply with this regulation, even if the operator has an aviation safety management system (SMS) or non-Australian security certification in place.
2. When TSPs became a requirement
The Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 and Aviation Transport Security Regulations 2005 require all aviation industry participants to operate an approved TSP. The TSP program originally applied to almost all private non-revenue and charter (non-scheduled commercial) operations to Australia. In March 2012, Australia relaxed the definition of what’s considered a "prescribed air service," and, today, 95% of GA operations are not subject to TSP requirements. These relaxed TSP regulations are much less onerous for the GA community and cover far fewer operations. More info and legislation regarding Australian TSPs can be obtained by visiting the Department of Infrastructure and Transport site.
3. Governing authority responsible for TSPs and its validity period
TSPs are administered by the Australian Office of Transport Security: specifically, the Department of Infrastructure and Transport. Australian TSPs have validity for five years before they have to be renewed.
4. Operations that require TSPs
Under the new and relaxed regulations, operators conducting private non-revenue flights with principals/owners onboard no longer require TSPs, so long as they’re not making more than four flights to Australia within a period of 12 months. However, all charter operations, and any private operations beyond four per year, require TSPs. Private operations without the owner/CEO/top company executives onboard require TSPs, even if it’s just a single trip to Australia. Aircraft used for pleasure travel to Australia by anyone other than the owner/CEO/top company executives requires a TSP. Aircraft coming to Australia for sale or demonstration purposes must have a TSP. TSPs are also needed for all cargo aircraft movements to Australia.
5. Lead time needed to obtain a TSP
It can take up to 60 days for the review of a TSP application by the Australian Department of Transportation and Infrastructure. If an operator has a TSP request in process and travels to Australia, he or she may or may not be prosecuted for not having an approved TSP. It’s at the discretion of authorities to determine what action to take. Penalties (ranging up to a maximum fine of 22,000 Australian dollars) are in cases of "prescribed air services" operating to Australia without a TSP and without having requested a TSP. Such non-compliance may be discovered during the course of random ramp checks.
6. Information needed to obtain a TSP
Various detailed forms and questionnaires need to be completed and must be signed by a high-ranking company officer. Required information covers everything from operator name and seating capacity of the aircraft to planned procedural responses in the event of terrorism and/or catastrophic incidents. Operators are required to estimate the impact and cost of any security incidents that may take place stemming from aircraft operations to Australia. It’s best to contact your 3rd-party provider to obtain the necessary forms and questionnaires needed for the TSP application.
7. One TSP covers an entire fleet
A TSP covers all aircraft registered to a particular operator. Keep in mind, however, that TSP revisions may be necessary from time to time.
8. When revisions are required
A TSP must be revised if an aircraft is added and/or removed from the fleet; if there’s a significant change to the aircraft operator’s security policies; if there’s a change in operator or company name, company security contact officer or a senior company officer; or if anyone significant in the flight department is replaced. TSP revisions are accomplished using a Section 23A form, and that must be signed by a senior company officer. TSP revision turnaround time is generally about one week. Then, the changes are sent to the authorities for their approval, which can take up to two weeks. However, like an initial TSP, please allow up to 60 days for the review of changes. Operators with a valid TSP pending confirmation of alterations can still operate to Australian airports with the current TSP.
9. A 3rd-party provider should be involved in the application process
Due to the complexity of the TSP application process, it’s best to use the services of a knowledgeable 3rd-party provider with good lines of communication to the appropriate TSP governing entity. If an operator chooses to have a 3rd-party provider assist with a TSP application, then a letter of authorization allowing the 3rd-party provider to act on its behalf must be submitted. Using a 3rd-party provider during the application process does not bind the operator to utilize the services of the 3rd-party provider when traveling to Australia.
10. The TSP process may become more stringent in the future
Australian TSP requirements have become more relaxed (as opposed to more onerous) over recent months, in that fewer types of operations are now "covered." Regulations, however, may change or evolve in the future, particularly if a new minister, or high-ranking government employee with a different point of view, takes office.
If your operations to Australia fall into or may fall into a "prescribed air service" category, it’s best to start the TSP application process without delay. Time is needed to source required information and to process TSP applications. You’ll need to have a security contact officer within your flight department, and required application forms must be signed by a high-ranking company officer. Best practice, due to complexity of the application process, is to involve a 3rd-party provider in the process.
If you have any questions about this article or business aircraft operations in Australia, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.