Minister Truss in action. Tell us more about the donations and Pel-Air?

Updated with partial response from Minister Truss. The Pel-Air accident scandal now threatens to undermine Australia’s nomination of the former chief of  CASA, John McCormick, as the next secretary general of ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

The core issue is that the Pel-Air ditching in 2009, and the botched accident report produced by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the ATSB, don’t appear to have been filed with ICAO.

This means that ICAO could be seen to be officially unaware of the crash, or the subsequent accident report, contrary to its own ICAO Annex 13, specifically Chapter 7 and Attachment B. The conduct of CASA, under Mr McCormick, in relation to the Pel-Air crash would thus not necessarily arise in ICAO’s deliberations in choosing a new secretary general, the other candidate being from China.

Australia failed in its responsibility to ICAO in not meeting these reporting requirements.

This failure is noticeable in this document, a draft of the Asia/Pacific Annual Safety Report for 2002 to 2011. No reference is made to the Pel-Air ditching.

Yet in the quaint post war terminology employed by ICAO as a United Nations agency, Australia is “the champion for the editing and publishing group.”

But has Australia misled ICAO, or just been an incompetent champion?

If ICAO were to be informed of and curious about the Pel-Air crash, and the quality and integrity of the accident report, it would read the deliberations and testimonies associated with the Australian Senate investigation of the ATSB’s Pel-Air report, which discredited the conduct of both Mr McCormick as director of safety at CASA and Martin Dolan as chief  commissioner of  the ATSB.

It would also, in its diligence, become aware of the somewhat astonishing generosity of  REX, the owner of Pel-Air, to the major political parties of Australia in 2012, in the second half of the year in which the ATSB was in a state of turmoil over the direction of the final report.

A deodorant to counter the stench coming off this sorry, sorry epic, involving the performances of the former responsible transport minister Anthony Albanese, and the current somewhat vague minister, Warren Truss, would also be advised.

Amnesia related to Pel-Air was also apparent in this recently recycled ATSB report into fuel exhaustion accidents.

The current state of play in the Pel-Air saga is that the ATSB, having been found wanting in its procedures by a peer review by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada,  is now reviewing its original defective report with its own appointee!

This additional layer of farce and maladministration might also be of interest to ICAO, and is understood to be likely to become an early focus of the same Senate committee that exposed the truth about the original CASA cover up of the deficiencies in Pel-Air’s Westwind jet operations at the time of the 2009 ditching near Norfolk Island.

Ministerial spokesperson responds:

The ATSB advises that it did report the Pel-Air accident off Norfolk Island to ICAO, which is confirmed through a check of the iSTARS database.

The accident did not appear in the Annual Safety Report Asia Pacific Region (2002-2011) because the report is limited to scheduled commercial operations above 5,700kg. The Pel-Air accident off Norfolk Island was not a scheduled commercial operation so it was excluded from the report.

This statement doesn’t address all of the issues in the post.

It specifically ignores the other instance of ATSB amnesia in its ten year review of fiuel management accidents and incidents, which included events involving non scheduled services by aircraft smaller than the Westwind that was ditched off Norfolk Island.

A complete response to the post continues to be sought from the Minister.


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