At a time when the Minister responsible for aviation safety, Warren Truss, appears to be invisible in relation to the shameful Pel-Air crash and its aftermath, it is worth remembering the Seaview disaster of 1994.
The pilot and eight passengers on the light aircraft died just over 20 years ago when it plunged into the sea on its way from Newcastle (Williamtown) to Lord Howe Island.
That accident, the result of failed air safety oversight by the then Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) , and a total contempt for the safety regulations by the operator, is reported in very blunt terms in this article in Flight Safety Australia, which is published by CASA, which replaced the CAA following the Seaview disaster.
This is quite a remarkable article, both in its scholarship and ferocious style, and in its coming out under the auspices of CASA, since much of the criticism of Seaview and the safety regulator that it conveys might prompt readers to draw parallels with the 2009 Pel-Air crash, and the quite shocking performance of CASA, the ATSB, and this Minister and his predecessor Anthony Albanese in relation to these matters.
But the irony goes deeper. Current Minister Truss’s former coalition colleague John Sharp was the Aviation Minister who tabled the Seaview Commission of Inquiry report in Federal Parliament which found Seaview was “a slipshod, often wilfully non-compliant organisation in which breaches of regulations and unacceptable practices were . . .commonplace”.
It was in 2009 the same John Sharp as the deputy chair of REX, the owner of the Pel-Air operation, who told the media that there was “no plan B” if the corporate jet that was ditched in the sea near Norfolk Island passed the point of no return and found itself unable to land for refueling if the weather conditions deteriorated to the extent that this was no longer possible.
Mr Sharp’s indignation, concern, and with hindsight, it seems his hypocritical posturing, can be read in contemporary news reports such as this.
Now, in 2014, five years and one day after the Pel-Air crash, the lack of adequate regulations concerning the fueling of such oceanic air ambulance flights has not been remedied. The reform process in CASA is in as big if not bigger mess under Truss than it was under Albanese. Lots of words from Albanese, and fewer from Truss, but no material results from either.
Air safety regulation in Australia is a joke, and one that will backfire on the industry.
After reading the article in Flight Safety (which has been curated) please read the comments. The second comment is from Karen Casey, the nurse who was badly injured in the crash, and has as yet been left uncompensated by parties who appear to think they have no liability for the outcomes of their actions.
There is something very rotten in the administration of air safety in this country. And no-one seems to give a damn.