At the other end of the spectrum to Emirates and its nearly catastrophic stuff up on a grassy slope just beyond Melbourne Airport on 20 March we have the lethal and nasty reputation of regional aviation in Far North Queensland, where it appears that Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander communities can just get stuffed as far as diligent and effective administration of air safety regulation is concerned. Not to mention maritime safety rules.

Some identifying material has been blocked in the following file, which has been passed on to CASA for comment or action.

Irrespective of the rights or wrongs of this complaint, why can’t CASA respond in a timely manner when a member of the public raises in detail an issue involving air safety?

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: Complaint
Date: Fri, 10 Apr 2009 13:41:19 +1030

Dear. Mr. Hart.

Firstly, I have attempted to make a complaint via a CASA Flight Operations Inspector on two separate occasions now. The below issue has been ‘passed around’ somewhat by this CASA representative. As quoted ‘I can’t be seen to step on another FOI’s toes’. So this FOI has recently gotten in touch with me and has now given me your e-mail address.

I therefore wish to remain anonymous – I hope this is satisfactory.

My complaint is against a Charter Operator in XXX, QLD. The operator is known by several names (blocked).

My complaint is that this operator is currently and has been for many years, been conducting blatant Regular Public Transport on the XXX-Palm Island-XXX route without holding a Regular Public Transport AOC.

I work in the industry and see the following acts as deliberate breach of both CAR 206 and CAO 82.3. I refer you to the following complaints and extracts from both of the aforementioned regulations and orders.

They operate on a fixed schedule:

They have a published schedule on their website: (blocked)

They also have a published schedule in their (terminal in a Qld location).

They operate to and from fixed terminals.

They operate piston-engined/single engine aircraft on RPT flights.

They do operate these RPT flights in multi-engined aircraft a percentage of the time (most of the time under the visual flight rules); but the they operate RPT flights in single-engine aircraft (over 55 kilometres of water) under these rules.This is what upsets me the most. If one of these aircraft was to have an engine-failure, the resultant would be bleak. CAO 82.3 states that aircraft operating RPT must be either multi-engined aircraft under the IFR (instrument flight rules) or (if approved by CASA) single-engine turbine powered aircraft (they operate no such aircraft) under the IFR.

Restriction on I.F.R. flights by single engine aircraft
(1) The pilot in command of a single engine aircraft must not fly the
aircraft under the I.F.R. if the flight is not in one of the following
operations:
(a) private operations;
(b) aerial work operations;
(c) charter operations that do not involve the carrying of passengers
for hire or reward;
(d) charter or regular public transport operations that involve the
carrying of passengers for hire or reward, if:
(i) the operator is approved in writing by CASA to conduct the
operations; and
(ii) the operations are conducted in a turbine powered
aeroplane approved in writing by CASA for those
operations.

With regards to the operations of the single-engine aircraft over water; in inclement weather, when they are forced under the VFR to fly below 2000′ AMSL, their passengers are seen disembarking without wearing lifejackets as per CAO 20.11 5.17:

5.1.7 Where life jackets are required to be carried in accordance with subparagraph 5.1.1 (a)
each occupant shall wear a life jacket during flight over water. However, occupants of aeroplanes need not wear life jackets during flight above 2 000 feet above the water.

This organisation has been a ‘running joke’ in FNQ for many years for the simple fact they have been getting away with the above without any consequences. A rather well regarded, very senior/experienced pilot who lives in XXX who oversees a far-west QLD charter operator, made a complaint to the Far North QLD CASA Field Office in 2007, to which nothing was ever done.

My question to you Mr. Hart is why has nothing ever been done about these deliberate breaches of the CAR/CAO’s? Why has the Far North QLD CASA Field Office turned a ‘blind eye’ to this for all these years? I say this because they clearly must go through audits/surveillance being the owner of a Charter AOC.

I assure you, the reason for this complaint is not ‘competition/business’ related. I have a conscience. I see their passengers daily get into single-engined aircraft on fixed schedules to Palm Island and fly over 55 kilometres of water. Their passengers, I am sure, are none the wiser with regards to what the law says about the very operation they have paid money to be carried in.

I have no idea whether their aircraft are maintained to the required RPT standard or whether or not their pilots have the required RPT experience.

If the worst was to happen, I can assure you that there is a growing paper trail of evidence against CASA (this included) which would be gladly passed on to a Coroner. This operator is palpably putting the travelling public at risk.

I am all too aware of the spotlight well and truly on the air safety record of Far North QLD and the Far North QLD CASA Field Office in light of the Lockhart River Tragedy. I am beginning to wonder whether the appalling air safety record of Far North QLD maybe has something to do with the dealings of the regulator.

I thank you for your time.

Regards,

Anon.

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