Did the ATSB contort its recent inquiry into the ditching of a Pel-Air air ambulance jet near Norfolk Island in 2009 into a process which loaded blame onto the pilot in a manner that excluded critical issues and evidence and protected the operator from having its audited safety failings exposed to public scrutiny?

This is a question that the Senate inquiry into the ATSB findings in its investigation of that accident, which was announced today, is setting out to examine and answer.

The inquiry has been instigated by independent South Australia senator, Nick Xenophon,  and is to report by 29 November. The accident and the controversial ATSB procedures and findings, were the subject of a recent ABC TV  4 Corners report, which was supported by the posting online of complete, unedited videos of interviews with the chief commissioner of the ATSB, Martin Dolan, and John McCormick, the Director of Aviation Safety at CASA, as well as a hitherto secret and highly critical CASA audit of safety deficiencies that were present in Pel-Air’s operations at the time of the crash.

Earlier reports concerning the Pel-Air issues can be found here and here.

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