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Airservices and the Senate

Having looked and followed carefully the answers given by Ms Staib on Tuesday 24th February 2015, I have serious questions about the way Airservices is conducting it’s ‘business’ [monopoly provider] for the aviation industry.

The ASA non-use of a safety case before the ASA Board approved of a move of Adelaide Approach to Melbourne is to be roundly condemned. The failure by CASA and now ASA to properly develop safety cases before decisions must be stopped. That ATSB does not properly issue Safety concerns in line with ICAO Annex 13 is also to be deplored, as there is no proper closure in the process.

Just more holes in the “swiss cheese” as referred to by Nick Xenophon.

I am at a loss to explain why Air Services [ASA] think that the losses incurred should be just ‘passed onto’ the industry from the Darwin unregistered truck accident, without comment, the losses likely to be incurred from the Port Headland contractor failure and who knows how many other losses.

Industry calls on ASA to give the total of these costs and like other ‘service providers’ in business, explain the real cost and how it is funded. Remember, this is a ‘public service’ organisation and should meet the very strict rules that ASA has been reminded of by the venerable Senators, particularly Heffernan and Xenophon.

From 24th February 2015 senate estimates:

Senator GALLACHER: I know that other senators have some questions, but I want to briefly touch on a really horrific coronial inquiry report.

Mr Mrdak, I note in the government’s statement that it says: ‘Airservices is accountable to the Australian parliament through the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development.’ Where do you sit in all that? Do you have any authority over this organisation or not?

Mr Mrdak : No. My department provides advice to the minister in relation To Airservices governance matters, but the board has a direct line of accountability to the minister.

Senator GALLACHER:  So you may as well not be here for these purposes.

Mr Mrdak : There are questions about what I do, most days!

CHAIR: Don’t worry; it is the same with me!

Mr Mrdak : We provide government advice. We also ensure coordination across the portfolio in relation to aviation policy and regulatory matters. That is the role the department plays.

Senator GALLACHER: There are some findings in the coronial inquiry which are quite damning of Airservices Australia’s lack of adherence to proper training and proper procedures, down to the fact that an oversized vehicle, not registered for Northern Territory roads, travelled through an intersection at significantly higher speed than would be expected. Three people are dead. There is a news article saying that Comcare is going to sue Airservices Australia. You have no role in any of that?

Mr Mrdak : We do have a role in providing advice to the minister in relation to these matters. Primarily, the responsibility rests with Airservices. Obviously our role is to ensure that proper governance takes place in relation to the organisation.

Senator GALLACHER: Clearly there has been a failure of governance, as per the coronial findings, and an indication that another Commonwealth entity is going to sue Airservices Australia.

Mr Mrdak : I am not aware of that comment from Comcare but I will take it on notice and check that out.

And of course, later Senator Gallacher said:

Senator GALLACHER: No, my question is very clear. It has been put to me by people who pay your charges that consolidating into Brisbane and Melbourne will inevitably have them pay more in charges, whereas, if it continued to be decentralised, charges would not rise as much.

Senator STERLE: You got that one wrong, Sean!

Mr Mrdak : If you look at the remuneration, my understanding is—

Senator GALLACHER: I did not think you had anything to do with this crew.

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Well, as good followers of the Senate process and that of Government already know what is the case, MrDak is not responsible for ASA, CASA and ATSB.

What rancours, is that at Senate estimates and other hearings, MrDak has gone in hard to protect those three organisations. never has there been a serious assault on his views until Tuesday by Senator GALLACHER.

This is a real move to place the responsibility where it lies – with the Minister. We should remember the Albanese response when asked questions about PelAir.

Albanese of course ducked questions about the PelAir matter, so how could the community trust him???

And Albanese may be a contender against Bill Shorten.

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Planes at Melbourne Airport face ‘higher risk’ of mid-air collision, Senate hears

Updated

Planes landing at Melbourne Airport over the last two years may have faced a higher risk of mid-air collision because of a problem with safety rules.

Airservices Australia has admitted a “stuff-up” seems to have allowed pilots to land on intersecting runways at Tullamarine when winds were too high.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon grilled Airservices Australia (AA), which manages the nation’s airspace, about the issue during a Senate hearing in Canberra.

He said it was “extraordinary” that it could happen and, AA conceded, “it appears to be inconsistent with our current safety management practices”.

When Senator Xenophon described it as a stuff-up, AA’s executive general manager for air traffic control Greg Hood replied: “That’s the way it appears at the moment.”

Melbourne Airport is one of three in Australia that has intersecting runways that can operate concurrently.

The practice is banned in most parts of the world, but permitted in Australia, the United States and Canada.

But there are strict conditions governing when a pilot is allowed to land on a runway that intersects another that is in use.

Cross winds have to be less than 20 knots and tail winds less than 5 knots.

Two years ago the rules at Melbourne Airport were changed and planes were permitted to land on the second, intersecting runway even when winds exceeded the normal limits.

The problem was identified when pilots contacted Senator Xenophon with concerns this could increase the risk of a mid-air collision if the planes using the crossed runways both had to abort their landings.

“It’s not just one pilot, it’s quite a few pilots who are particularly concerned,” he said.

“They were really worried about it. They thought the risk of something going wrong in a go-around in those cross winds could have led to a mid-air collision.”

Airservices Australia conducting review into rule changes

Senator Xenophon demanded an explanation from AA in the parliamentary hearing.

“Pilots were landing beyond that buffer… in breach of your own rules… there were aircraft landing outside those safety parameters – yes or no?” asked Senator Xenophon.

“It’s not a yes or no answer,” replied Mr Hood.

Mr Hood said the current laws were not specific when it comes to the second, or “passive,” runway in such a scenario.

But he told the committee the wind limits are now being strictly observed.

“I have taken immediate action to ensure that the procedure has been amended,” he said.

He also told the committee AA was conducting a review into how the rules had been changed without any risk assesment or safety analysis being done.

“I’m as interested as you are as to how those rules came to be changed,” he said.

That review is expected to be completed in the next three weeks.

Topics: air-and-space, federal-government, federal-parliament, melbourne-3000

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