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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