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Sep 17, 2012

Boat people flights blocked on Flightaware jet tracker

It seems at odds with the notion of sending a tough message to people smugglers and their desperate and uninformed customers that Skytraders has required the publicly accessible Flighta

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It seems at odds with the notion of sending a tough message to people smugglers and their desperate and uninformed customers that Skytraders has required the publicly accessible Flightaware tracking system to hide the charter flights by its Airbus A319 LR or long range jet between Christmas Island and Nauru.

Do they fear the paparazzi might somehow gate crash its landings, or publicise the loadings of the those we punish as proxies for the criminals who we freely let come and go from this country because Canberra doesn’t have enough evidence or guts to prosecute and pursue the real wrong doers, who organise the boats, sell the fares, and care not whether they make it with their human cargo to Australian soil, or vanish without trace.

Isn’t publicising this enlightened, humane, family friendly, wholesome process of ruining the lives of those who actually make it to Christmas Island part of the strategy to end people smuggling?

Or are we really, truly deeply ashamed of what we are doing?

It seems that the latter might be true.

The jet concerned performs the Australian Antarctic Division flights to the Wilkins Ice Runway some distance from the Casey station during the polar summer, as well as charters to McMurdo Sound for other Antarctic treaty nations and the occasional medical rescue flight to the ice continent.

However it has plenty of spare time in which to take other government or commercial charters, and has occasionally been used to transport visiting Royalty, or shuttle the media around the region in tandem with the Prime Ministerial Boeing BBJ when the focus groups decide that a larger than normal contingent of reporters is required for far flung photo and story opportunities.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands has reported and analysed the mechanical mobility of humanity since late 1960 - the end of the age of great scheduled ocean liners and coastal steamers and the start of the jet age. He’s worked in newspapers, radio and TV in a wide range of roles as a journalist at home and abroad for 56 years, the last 18 freelance.

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15 comments

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15 thoughts on “Boat people flights blocked on Flightaware jet tracker

  1. shepherdmarilyn

    Oh for god’s sake, there is nothing criminal about providing transport for refugees.

    Why do all the morons who think we wrong to behave the way we do so happy to blame some unknown person somewhere?

    it is not now and nor has it ever been smuggling but it seems that SBY’s bodyguard is the chief of operations in Indonesia along with army and police.

    And it is Australia who lets them drown.

    They should be deeply ashamed of what they are doing and the Australian companies out to make money off human misery should be ashamed of themselves.

  2. wordfactory

    Good grief! You’ve hit the right note there, Ben. So pure was the sentiment, you’ve flushed out the Queen of the Zombie Blogs in her one and only visit this year to the world of aviation to celebrate a mention of the the Greens’ open borders policy, which has been such a success. Of course, you’re right to be angry, Marilyn: all that self-loathing just hasn’t cut through with the Australian middle class.

  3. shepherdmarilyn

    Oh for f*cks sake word factory, do you actually have anything useful to say?

    Ben is just another lazy spiv. claiming that someone should be charged with some crime because refugees come here, why?

    And we do have open borders, we cannot close them.

  4. wordfactory

    You just can’t get a proper country sheila any more. They’ve all turned into latte slurpers.

  5. Treenan

    Well done Marilyn, you’ve completely misunderstood Ben’s points.

    BTW, how’s the job search going? Looking for a career in aviation perhaps?

  6. NeoTheFatCat

    Wow! Only 5 comments and we are (1) completely off-topic and (2) descended into trading personal commentary. Let’s see how soon before we can get stuck into personal insults!

  7. comet

    It’s a fascinating piece of news that Skytraders requested that its flights go dark on FlightAware.

    I wonder if Skytraders also switched off the ADS-B location transponder on its Airbus A319 to make it go dark on FlightRadar24.com. Normally, FlightRadar24’s receivers can detect aircraft right across the Timor Sea north of Darwin, which is the route taken by Skytraders’ Airbus.

    Skytraders is currently advertising jobs for senior and junior flight attendants. Maybe those job ads should make clear that part of your responsibilities will be to ferry women and children against their will to a remote and desolate pacific island to live in tents.

  8. Cat on a PC©

    comet, I was thinking the same thing. But I don’t think they can turn off their ADS-B. It would be interesting to know if FlightRadar24.com do get such requests and whether or not they are able to selectively hide aircraft.

  9. gapot

    On the topic of cost recovery for the government, the going price of a trip from Java to Christmas Island seems to be over US$3000. This is a nice little earner for the fixers which could be made by our government if they were to put a fast ferry on the run. No more tired navy boys and girls complaining about their job description.

  10. Ben Sandilands

    gapot,

    Like the logic. Maybe the next step would be to discretely sell ‘special’ airfares to Australian cities where the airports each day receive more illegal immigrants than the boats can put at risk. In the process, this would make the public and our elected representatives recognise that we tolerate massive arrivals of such refugees, or potential refugees, by scheduled airlines all the time.

    NeoTheFatCat,

    I do my best to promptly remove or edit offensive comments, without, so far as is possible, impeding passionate discussion. Sometimes I’m in transit or a meeting or unable to moderate comments, and when that happens I rely on the guardian elves at Crikey to step in.

  11. comet

    The Skytraders’ aircraft that ferries asylum seekers is registered VH-VHD, in case anyone wants to try to locate it by other means.

  12. Bill Parker

    A quick search using “VH-VHD” produced an interesting set of hits, including one ATSB report in May 2010.

  13. shepherdmarilyn

    My beef is with the assumption that there are some people out there somewhere that should be charged with helping refugees, it is not a crime and I wish our lazy frigging media across the board would stop using that as an excuse to mistreat people.

    They are hiding because the trips are illegal human trafficking and human dumping and they are complicit in the crime.

  14. wjrhamilton@optusnet.com.au

    Gee!! Ben,
    A bit different to your usual run of posts.
    Cheers,
    Bill Hamilton

  15. COTOS

    Soooooo, a little off topic but still aviation themed, and related to blocked aircraft movements; does anyone know (calmly) why there is an aircraft circling MEL at nights without nav or strobe lights? it doesnt appear on webtrak or flightradar24 as far as i know, i havent tried flightaware but i last recall seeing it on a mon night at 8pm earlier this month and another time at 1am, it had no running lights but was lit up by the reflection of city lights on its belly contrasted on the black sky, it was high, circling and sounded like a turbo prop?

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