Truss demands action on Senate Committee’s ATSB/CASA recommendations

Shadow Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss has supported demands from Senator David Fawcett for immediate action on the recommendations of the Senate committee enquiry into CASA and ATSB’s handling of the Pel-Air ditching at Norfolk Island almost four years ago:

“Minister Anthony Albanese must urgently respond to the recommendations flowing from a Senate Committee investigation into a ditched Pel-Air flight off Norfolk Island in November 2009,” Said Mr. Truss.

 “The recommendations, handed down by the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee in their Aviation Accident Investigations Report, make disturbing reading.


 “The Senate Inquiry was established following the release of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s (ATSB’s) report into the Norfolk Island incident almost three years after the event.


“The circumstances of the flight were both a disaster and a miracle. Despite mistakes being made by the pilot on the air ambulance trip from Apia (Samoa) to the Australian mainland, all four passengers and two crew were saved, the aircraft successfully ditching at night off the coast of Norfolk Island during bad weather.


“However, the purpose of the Senate Inquiry was not the incident itself, but the alleged breakdown in investigation and reporting by the ATSB and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).


“Specifically, the report states:


‘The committee accepts that the pilot in command made errors on the night, and this inquiry was not an attempt to vindicate him. Instead, the committee’s overriding objective from the outset was to find out why the pilot became the last line of defence on the night and to maximise the safety outcomes of future ATSB and CASA investigations in the interests of the travelling public’.


“The report makes 26 recommendations to improve the conduct, regulation and procedures governing aviation incident investigations, which the Committee argues were not up to scratch.


“People have every right to expect world’s best practice when it comes to aviation safety, which includes comprehensive investigation and reporting of incidents. The community is entitled to have confidence in our aviation safety regulations and the conduct of our regulators.


“Similarly, it is vital that through comprehensive incident investigations and reporting, industry and regulators are accorded the opportunity to learn from past mistakes and improve systems to overcome existing weaknesses.


“The Report raises serious issues of process that must be addressed. Minister Albanese must restore public confidence in our accident investigatory bodies and deal with the concerns raised in the Inquiry as a matter of urgency.”

 For the committee’s recommendations, see here

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About Paul Phelan

Paul Phelan flew for over 50 years in private, charter, corporate and regional aviation, worked in senior management roles with a major regional airline, and retains his license. In parallel he has been writing for Australian and international aviation journals for well over 20 years on all aspects of aviation including aircraft evaluation, flying, industry affairs, infrastructure, manufacture, regulatory affairs, safety, technologies and training. He has won three separate National Aviation Press Club awards for "best technical aviation story of the year."

1 thought on “Truss demands action on Senate Committee’s ATSB/CASA recommendations

  1. Sandy Reith

    Unfortunately Mr Truss showed little interest in aviation reform when he had ample opportunity as the Minister responsible.

    I am able to state this with authority because I led a deputation to him, as Minister for Aviation, in order to highlight the great difficulties of General Aviation ( GA) and to put to him growth strategies. He seemed completely happy with the status quo, and instead of listening to our submissions proceeded to defend CASA and argue that the rise of RAaus low weight category flying was an indication of the health of GA.

    As anyone with the slightest knowledge of GA is quite aware, the great migration of pilots to the low weight category is simply beacuse of the reasonable regulatiry regime pertaining to this part of GA, unhampered as it is by the totally unviable regime of CASA. Furthermore the low weight category aircraft, built as they are down to an artificial weight are, in the majority of cases mostly unsuited to Australian conditions. They lack; carrying capacity, speed, range, turbulence penetration and the reserve of strength that is built into all other ‘mainsteam’ GA aircraft. They are, by virtue of low weight, less safe in the often windy condtions around Australia, when landing and in take-off.

    Hats off to those who build and fly in this category. Ingenious designs and careful pilots make the best of it, but no one should firget this category is a political ploy to keep GA on the sidelines and to force thousands into the low weight category to relieve government of finger pointing. A gross neglect of an important segment of Australian industry has thus (Truss) enshewed.

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