The ATSB, Australia’s disgraced and compromised air safety investigator, has issued a ‘policy’ statement on safety incident information sharing.
By way of context, this statement is not directly linked to the controversy surrounding its final report into the crash of a Pel-Air jet near Norfolk Island in 2009. It is, as it indicates in a shorthand manner, a response to ‘feedback’, read concern about breaches of privacy and the risks of retribution faced by airline employees or other interested parties who disclose safety concerns to the ATSB expecting their confidentiality to be respected.
However the policy statement is full of weasel words in relation to how the ATSB is supposed to work with CASA , and comes out at a time when neither the government nor opposition mind is likely to be on the matters uncovered by a recent scathing Senate inquiry into the ATSB’s final report into the Pel-Air crash.
The policy statement posted today by the ATSB contains this passage in relation to information sharing with CASA, the safety regulator.
In fact the Senate inquiry established with great detail the withholding of critical information in relation to the Pel-Air crash by CASA from the ATSB concerning internal findings of its own incompetent oversight of Pel-Air, and the unsafe state of operations at Pel-Air at the time of the crash.
The Senate referred this matter directly to the Australian Federal Police. Cynics may doubt that the AFP has the capacity to make adverse findings against the federal bureaucracy, but we will see. The facts are quite damning, and will not go away.
The ATSB report into the Pel-Air crash is severely deficient, and unfair, and consciously avoids discharging the ATSB’s reponsibility to inform the wider industry globally of matters such as the complete failure of the safety equipment on board the jet.
The report needs to be withdrawn and redone, in a manner that is fair, transparent and in accordance with Australia’s international obligations to air safety, rather than any obligations the ATSB might feel to CASA not to draw attention to its serious internal failings.