For months Plane Talking has been asking the office of the Minister responsible for aviation, Warren Truss, for updates on the Pel-Air issues.
Each of those requests has met with non-answers, most recently late on Friday, when asked what was going on with the Canadian Transportation Safety Board review of the procedures followed by the ATSB in arriving at its much criticised final report into the crash of a Pel-Air medivac flight.
This involved a Westwind corporate jet that was ditched in the sea near Norfolk Island in 2009, after it couldn’t land in poor weather for a planned refuelling on its way from Apia to Melbourne. All six people on board managed to escape from the sinking jet despite the safety aids on board failing to work as intended.
It’s reasonable to persist with these questions, and to sharpen the focus.
Why does Minister Truss think it acceptable that a second rate and deeply flawed and compromised accident investigation by the ATSB be allowed to stand?
Why does the Minister embrace second rate as good enough for Australia?
Does the Minister give a damn that one person was seriously injured in this crash and has not been compensated for her injuries and loss of income, while the operator goes unpunished?
If the Minister does give a damn, what is he going to do about it?
Does the Minister accept that the parliament of Australia ought to be as concerned with the welfare of air accident victims as it appears to be with a culture of protection and cover up among public bodies charged with protecting the safety of users of air services conducted under the laws of this country?
On any reasonable reading of the Hansard of the Senate committee hearings into the ATSB report and the all party unanimous findings of that committee, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority, by admission, failed in its duty of oversight of the operations of Pel-Air Westwind jets and then failed as required by law to inform the ATSB of its internal review that confirmed this state of affairs.
Does the Minister accept this culture of cover up in, and between, Australia’s safety regulator and its safety investigator, and if so, why?
If not, when will penalties and remedies be sought in relation to CASA and the ATSB, and when will the flawed report that resulted from their actions be withdrawn and corrected?
The crash of a small corporate jet may not seem material to the interests of the travelling public, however if neither CASA nor the ATSB can be trusted to honestly and professionally deal with their obligations in relation to the Pel-Air accident, what peril or risk does this pose to the users of the larger Australian airlines for which those bodies have legislated obligations?
The Minister has a second rate administrative scandal on his hands. It needs a first rate response.