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Aviation Minister Darren Chester fails to inform public of accident

Aviation Minister Darren Chester fails to inform public of accident, that occurred on 10th November 2017, of a “wheels-up” landing at West Sale. Local information has the aircraft being rapidly removed from sight into a local hanger at Sale.

Finally, some 34 days later, the matter is made public by The Australian.  not the Minister.

The Prime report on the matter.

Remember the Minister Chester has an advisor who stood for the ACT Parliament and is ex-RAAF with a partner who works for #casa. The previous Chester advisor, who came fro the Department office under Mike MrDak now advises the CEO of #casa [The regulator]

Surely will put serious pressure on Darren Chester.

‘Wheels-up’ landing puts air safety minister’s flight in peril

Transport Minister Darren Chester.
Transport Minister Darren Chester.
The type of Cessna 337 light plane involved in the incident.
The type of Cessna 337 light plane involved in the incident.

The cabinet minister responsible for air safety was involved in a “wheels-up” landing after the pilot became distracted by a mobile phone and failed to lower the landing gear, in what the regulator dubbed a “serious incident”.

Transport Minister Darren Chester was travelling in the back seat of the light plane on a Nov­ember 10 flight from Essendon to West Sale in regional Victoria. He realised the pilot had not lowered the wheels only when he heard the belly of the Cessna 337 scraping along the runway.

The incident was reported immediately to transport safety regulators, who were faced with the unusual decision of considering whether to mount an investigation into an incident involving their own minister.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau categorised the mishap as a “serious incident” and concluded that an accident had nearly occurred, although it decided not to pursue the issue, while a separate report was also filed with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.


“During approach, the crew did not extend the landing gear resulting in a wheels-up landing. The aircraft sustained minor damage,” the ATSB report found.

The Australian understands the light plane skidded for up to 250m and its rear propeller made very light contact with the ground. Mr Chester said the incident lasted for only a matter of seconds.

“It was surprisingly smooth and the only time I became aware that something had gone wrong was when I heard the noise of the fuse­lage making contact with the runway,” he told The Australian.

The plane belongs to and was piloted by Mark Noble, the director of Bairnsdale Air Charter, which has been operating in the Gippsland region since 1966.

The Australian has confirmed the company was not the operator for the November 10 flight involving Mr Chester.

Mr Noble is well known to Mr Chester, who yesterday confirmed he had flown with him on hundreds of occasions, saying the pilot had accumulated about 9000 hours in the air.

“I regard him as a highly capable and professional pilot and I look forward to flying with him again. He indicated he made a mistake and fortunately neither of us was injured,” Mr Chester said.

The Australian has confirmed that Mr Noble became distracted when his mobile phone rang upon descent to the West Sale Aerodrome and filed a report with the ATSB and CASA indi­cating this.

It is understood that Mr Noble did not answer the phone calls, but became distracted by how loud the ringtone on the phone was.

“The pilot indicated he has appropriate protocols in place not to take phone calls during landing but he failed to switch off his phone — it’s just a simple case of human error,” Mr Chester said.

“He had the right policies in place, but the phone wasn’t turned off.”

He played down the incident, saying it was an “amazingly calm” and “uneventful” landing.

Mr Noble said he had reviewed his protocols to ensure a similar incident did not recur: “Basically, the phone is disconnected from the top of descent. And then they are rechecked at 1000 feet where, as before, they were disconnected at 1000 feet.”

He said he was distracted by the ringtone’s volume. “It was turned up full,” he said. “It automatically connects to the audio system if the bluetooth is turned on. It just about blew my eardrums out and I went to turn it off … It was very distracting.”

The plane was jacked up and its wheels lowered so it could be moved off the runway.


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