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An aviation researcher, writer, aviation participant, pilot & agricultural researcher. Author of over 35 scientific publications world wide.

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Airservices union #ASA seek to reduce safety concerns of Dick Smith

Air-services union #ASA seek to reduce safety concerns of Dick Smith

The improvement of basic safety does not seem to be in the realm of the #ASA union – CivilAir. That the union has this type of view does not auger well for future relationships, particularly when the attitude over ADS-B is brought into the equation.

It simply is not good enough to try and land aviation participants with extra [and unwarranted] costs, then attempt to over-ride a simple solution to the matter.

This is not the first time that this type of activity has occurred – look at the lack of a safety case in the removal of NDB beacons. Further, #CASA and #ASA with the ADS-B issues, back tracking and different attitudes from #CASA and #ASA.

A discussion with the nurse of PelAir following the flight which ended in the water at Norfolk Island, when the operator could have transferred information to the flight on the ever deteriorating weather situation would likely have prevented the end of a life [RIP Bernie Currall] on the 27th February 2015 and stopped six people ending up in 3-metre seas in the dead of night with only three individuals having life-jackets. Given that one life-jacket refused to inflate, as discovered by the Senate inquiry of late 2012 and early 2013, a 50-kg nurse was left to support a 80 kg patient.

Let us never forget the human face of decisions – regulator [#casa], investigator [#atsb], and operator [#asa] aside.

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Air controllers set to fight ground-staff help

Controllers set to fight ground-staff

Ballina Byron Gateway Airport on the NSW north coast. Source: Supplied

Air traffic controllers have vowed to fight a move to allow firefighters at regional airports to provide basic air traffic information to ­pilots, although pilots have ­received the idea warmly.

As revealed yesterday, after years of campaigning by aviators including businessman Dick Smith, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority issued a statement to The Weekend Australian saying airports could apply on a case-by-case basis to have ground staff ­obtain training and a legal exemption to provide such services.

The move opens the prospect of Australian airports that do not have air traffic control towers adopting the American practice, where fire and rescue officers, mechanics, baggage handlers and check-in staff using the Unicom radio system give pilots observable information such as what aircraft are circling and on the runway.

Under CASA regulations, such information can be provided only by operators who have held an air- traffic controller’s licence in the previous 10 years, but CASA now says it could provide training and a “legal instrument” to other acceptable ground staff.

Civil Air, the union representing air-traffic controllers, yesterday registered its opposition, while Airservices Australia, which is funded by airlines and runs the fire stations at airports, indicated it would not adopt the system.

“Anyone exercising an air traffic function has to have the training and experience of an air traffic controller,” said Civil Air executive secretary Peter McGuane.

To devolve such responsibilities to firefighters and other ground staff, he said, would not be in the interest of air safety.

“Just because they do it in another country doesn’t make it right,” he said.

Australian Federation of Air Pilots president David Booth, who is an airline captain, said he would be open to fire and rescue crew at Ballina airport in northern NSW, for example, manning the Unicom radio service to provide local air traffic information, because they have a command structure, a professional culture and often an ­excellent viewing platform.

“If I’m flying into Ballina and a firefighter had received some training, and could give me a traffic picture of what’s flying around the circuit, that would be of some value,” he said.

He said such a system would help identify, for example, “a guy in an ultralight” who might not be using the radio as most pilots do in uncontrolled airspace to maintain separation through discussions among themselves.

The secretary of the aviation branch of the United Firefighters Union Australia, Henry Lawrence, said the union just learnt of the CASA policy and was yet to form a view on it.

Airservices Australia indicated it had no plans to have its firefighters provide air traffic information to pilots, saying radio services were a matter for airports.

However, Mr Smith said Airservices, being funded by the airlines, was interested mainly in saving money and making profits, and its executives were rewarded accordingly. But an Airservices spokes­woman said senior executive remuneration was “linked to delivery of industry supported outcomes, with a priority focus on safety”.

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