The Australian & International Pilots Association has written directly to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss over CASA’s handling of the Debate over colour vision deficiency CVD affected pilots.
Formed in 1981, AIPA represents about 2, 250 Qantas group pilots, making it Australia’s largest pilot representative group.
AIPA President Nathan Safe explained to the Minister that his Association felt a direct approach was necessary because CASA director John McCormick had shown a determination to persist with a strategy to unwind Australia’s advances in managing the issue with a policy that has been vindicated by many years and thousands of hours of safe flight by pilots with CVD.
“However, CASA has now embarked on a set of tactics to unwind that position,” said Mr Safe.
Mr McCormick had signalled the shift in CASA’s position on May 26 when he told the Senate Estimates Committee:
“The overriding principle here, whether it is colour vision deficiency, hearing deficiency or any sort of impairment on the pilot, is safety. We are talking about going towards an ATPL (air transport pilot license), when there is no standard of which we are aware for issuing an ATPL anywhere in the world, for what would be the benefit of a number of pilots – I think we are talking about a few hundred pilots in total. I agree they should be able to do the best they can in their career but our responsibility is to maintain the safety of the Australian travelling public. When we get to the point where we are pushing the boundaries, where we are pushing the science, looking for other ways to get around what could possibility be indicated from the clinical side is a dangerous thing to do, we are starting to impact on my ability to discharge my duties under section 9 of the Civil Aviation Act, and that is to provide safety as outlined in that act the.
“If we wish to go there, then we have to go there in a measured manner. We will not go there on one basic flight test. I am sorry, but we will research this as much as necessary and, with all due respect, I will not be issuing an ATPL to a person who has failed the test as outlined in [Civil Aviation Safety Regulation] 67.”
Mr McCormick made no reference at the committee hearing to the comprehensive 30-Day 1989 AAT test case which had been the basis of the regulator’s policy for 25 years until CASA’s recent reopening of the CVD debate.
Just ten days later, CASA’s ‘Permissions Centre’ manager wrote to AOC holders and separately to affected pilots, signalling its intention to review what AIPA describes as “one of the most enlightened policy positions in world aviation in regard to permitting pilots to fly in commercial service despite having an identified Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD).”
“In many ways, this cynical attempt by the senior executives of CASA to attack the long-standing CVD policy position of Australia, in concert with their intention to use the AAT to wind that policy back, has dulled some of the glimmer of hope that the industry attributed to your Aviation Safety Regulatory Review (ASRR).
“Given the path that CASA seems determined to follow in regard to CVD pilots, AIPA strongly recommends that you accept the evidence of many years of safe operations by CVD pilots in Australia that this is not a safety issue and that you consequently intervene to direct a more sensible and less expensive approach to whatever procedural issue that is motivating CASA to further alienate much of the Australian aviation industry.”
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