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CASA defends permanently grounding Barrier Aviation

By Sharnie Kim

Posted 49 minutes ago

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) says it is confident its investigation into grounded airline Barrier Aviation in far north Queensland will stand up before an independent umpire.

Barrier Aviation is going to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to appeal against CASAs decision to ground it permanently.

CASA spokesman Peter Gibson says the regulator stands by its findings.

“We found maintenance that wasn’t being done,” he said.

“We found aircraft flying with serious defects – like oil pressure gauges that weren’t working, fuel gauges not working properly, engine with oil leaks, smoke in the cockpit, engines coughing.

“Because of that they’ve found themselves on the ground.

“We’ll certainly be defending those decisions because we believe they were correct in the interests of the travelling public.”

Mr Gibson says the regulator has followed all the proper processes in investigating and grounding the airline.

“The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has had a team of aviation experts working on the investigation into Barrier Aviation,” he said.

“No one person has been responsible for the investigation and the decisions on the suspension and the cancellation were taken at the very highest levels within the Civil Aviation Safety Authority by our senior managers in Brisbane.”

Barrier Aviation managing director David Kilin says it will be difficult to get the airline operating, even if the tribunal rules in its favour.

“It would be extremely difficult given the reduction in the number of aircraft, staff that we’d have to recruit and retrain, and the damage to the brand name,” he said.

“It’d be a very difficult thing to come back from so that’s another factor we’ll have to take into account.”

However, he says it is still important to see the matter through.

“This process that they’ve used against us can be used against anybody and I think it’s time that somebody sat back and asked some questions and had a look at why CASA uses this process in this way,” he said.

“It’s not a fair process and I think it really needs to be examined.”


Grounded air boss lets fly at CASA

Bianca Keegan

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

© The Cairns Post

Biting back: Barrier boss David Kilin is attacking the air safety watchdog’s action.

BARRIER Aviation’s boss says the national Civil Aviation Safety Authority has “too much power” as he vows to fight until the bitter end to overturn the watchdog’s decision to permanently ground the airline.

Barrier Aviation managing director David Kilin fronted media for the first time yesterday since their Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) was suspended in December, saying alleged safety breaches were unfounded and not proven in court.

He said the three-month saga had crippled his company of 20 years with the cost running into the millions.

“All of these allegations that CASA have, none of them have been tested in a court of law to date,” Mr Kilin said.

“They have come from CASA and they have decided they are correct and they have acted on it.”

Mr Kilin confirmed a disgruntled former employee sent a statement to CASA which he believes contributed to the authority’s severe action.

“I think there could be a personal element in this,” he said.

“We had two audits last year and we had our AOC renewed and they are alleging ingrained cultural issues relating to safety within the company.

“They surely could not have developed between the November audit and December when the suspension was issued  so we have to ask what happened in those three weeks?

“It appears their intention was to close us down from day one.”

The airline’s Sydney-based lawyer Spencer Ferrier said his team was now waiting on a hearing date within the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to appeal the decision.

“There was no warning whatsoever,” he said.

“There has been no effort by the regulator to do anything to enable this business to keep running other than constant repetition that they believe the company is unsafe and yet everything I’ve seen suggest the company is running with an enormous amount of care towards safety.”

Barrier Aviation have been forced to lay off 50 staff and close their flying school, which had 30 students.

“If we do get the AOC granted again it will be a slow process to get back into the market place and then there is all the damage done to the brand name now just from the allegations,” Mr Kilin said.

CASA spokesperson Peter Gibson said a 66-page report was issued to the airline last week outlining the safety allegations, which centre on maintenance issues.

“We have evidence of them undertaking unsafe operations,” he told The Cairns Post.

Federal Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has publicly slammed CASA’s dealing of the case.



From the ABC:


Barrier Aviation to appeal CASA grounding

By Sharnie Kim

Updated 6 hours 8 minutes ago

Barrier Aviation owner and managing director David Kilin

Far north Queensland-based airline Barrier Aviation is appealing against the aviation watchdog’s decision to ground it permanently.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) last week cancelled the Cairns-based airline’s operating licence, citing serious safety concerns.

Barrier Aviation has lodged an application to have the matter heard in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Owner and managing director David Kilin says he is looking forward to having CASA’s allegations tested by an independent umpire.

“A lot of the allegations in their notices don’t appear to be 100 per cent correct and we need to get the mistakes taken out of it,” he said.

“I feel we’ve operated a good safe airline for many years now.

“We’ve never dispatched aircraft that weren’t air-worthy or safe.

“We have a safety record spanning over 20 years.

“We really need to get to the bottom of what’s going on.”

A hearing date is yet to be set.


Barrier Aviation AOC cancelled by CASA

Item by  at 10:51 am, Friday March 15 2013

At an end – Barrier Aviation’s AOC has been cancelled by CASA. (Steve Bottom)

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has cancelled Barrier Aviation’s operating certificate after the federal court upheld the authority’s view that it was “not satisfied that Barrier Aviation would not operate aircraft with known defects if allowed to resume operations”.

The permanent cancellation took effect on March 13 after an initial suspension of the airline’s AOC on December 23 last year.

In the course of the suspension, CASA had conducted investigations that confirmed Barrier “had been operating aircraft with serious and known defects, as well as directing pilots to fly these aircraft”. CASA said the known defects had not been recorded on aircraft maintenance documents and that the operator had a poor safety culture and “placed commercial imperatives before safety”.

Thursday March 14th 2013

 AAP: A far north Queensland charter service and flying school which operated aircrafts with known defects has been shut down.

An inquiry by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has found Cairns-based Barrier Aviation valued making money over safety.

The firm directed pilots to operate aircrafts with serious and known defects and failed to record or report the defects.

Barrier Aviation’s air operator’s certificate was cancelled yesterday.

Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/brisbane-live/brisbane-live-at-work-thursday-march-14-20130314-2g1nq.html#ixzz2NybjoKBt


casa and the effect on commercial operations

Barrier Aviation has received support from Warren Entch in Cairns saying CASA has ambushed Barrier. http://www.warrenentsch.com.au/Media/MediaReleases/tabid/73/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/284/CASA-must-answer-to-their-actions-says-Entsch.aspx …

 10:34 AM – 19 Mar 13

Media Releases

CASA must answer to their actions, says Entsch

Posted on Tuesday, 19 March, 2013

FEDERAL Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch has slammed CASA for the permanent grounding of Barrier Aviation, identifying “vested interests” as playing a key role in the airline’s crisis.

“It’s a bloody disgrace – there are people in CASA who should be sacked over this,” he said. “By the time the true facts behind all this come out, the victim will have been financially destroyed.”

Mr Entsch said Barrier Aviation’s 20-year safety record had been ignored in CASA’s ambush of the company and confirmed he had called the aviation authority to express his concerns.  “CASA are on a ‘go slow’ campaign to send Barrier bankrupt.  I have contacted them and tried to expedite the investigation process but they were not interested.”

Mr Entsch said the suspension was causing a huge financial, emotional and personal toll, with 50 families reliant on the family-owned business.

“As well as the employees who have worked for them for many years and never had a problem, there are also numerous local businesses that rely on Barrier – from Haggerstone Island Resort to Wongai Hotel on Horn Island and pilot training services in Cairns.

“I personally have used Barrier on many occasions and they have been outstanding.  But when the allegations come from a disgruntled employee who was demoted because of circumstances he created himself, (CASA) are denying natural justice.”

Mr Entsch can reveal that the complaint originated from a former employee who was cautioned and demoted following a number of irregular procedural issues, left the country and then filed a complaint of unfair demotion.  The situation has also been compounded by Barrier’s ongoing troubles with a particular CASA Airworthiness Inspector (AWI) based in Cairns.

In May 2011, the airline lodged a formal complaint through the director of CASA that the AWI responsible for inspecting Barrier’s aircraft, Mr Phillip Lister, lacked the experience to fulfil his role and duties and lacked the ability to correctly interpret CASA regulations.

“The matter was referred to the Industry Complaint Commissioner but as of this time, Barrier has not heard a single word back from them,” Mr Entsch commented.

“Given the seriousness of the matter, wouldn’t you think that while it is being investigated, CASA would have allocated another AWI for Barrier? But no action has been taken and Phillip Lister is still on the case; in fact, he has now been promoted to a team leader position and continues to have direct involvement.

“You have to wonder whether this is a personal attack as payback for the original complaint rather than anything that can be attributed to legitimate safety concerns.”

Mr Entsch said it was not the first time he had heard of CASA employing people who had either “failed in the private sector” or had their own agendas.

“You get individuals with a vested interest employed in these positions and they want to prove a point… They drive airlines into the ground and they cite safety as a reason for doing it, so it becomes very difficult for anyone to speak out.

“I see Barrier in this category – the airline has had no opportunity whatsoever of being able to test any of the information they are charged with including these false allegations.  You do have to ask if there is a vendetta.”

ABC News 24 December, 2012 5:15PM AEST

CASA extends Barrier Aviation’s suspension
By Sam Davis A Cairns based aircraft charter service says it expects considerable financial losses following the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s [CASA] decision to extend its suspension to February 15. 2013
The extension follows Sunday’s statement from CASA announcing it would take Barrier Aviation [BA] out of the air because of ‘a range of maintenance related deficiencies’.
The initial suspension meant BA would have been grounded for five working days but the company’s 55 employees will now spend Christmas mulling more than two months out of action.
Following the first suspension BA said more than 750 people may not make it home for the holidays.
It is now unclear how many people will be inconvenienced.
BA runs around 30 flights a day out of Horn Island, Darwin, Gove and Cairns.
Manager David Kilin said the timing could not have been worse for the company.
“It’s totally wrecked our Christmas,” he said.
“It appears they’ve reacted to allegations made by a disgruntled former employee. The allegations put to us … are mainly related to maintenance.”
In a statement released Sunday CASA said it regrets any inconvenience to passengers but that safety of passengers was their main concern.
“CASA has evidence of Barrier Aviation directing pilots to fly with serious and known aircraft defects, as well as not recording those defects on aircraft maintenance documentation when the defects became known,” the statement said.
But Mr Kilin said BA has a strong safety record and has never been taken out of the air since the company was founded 20 years ago.
“We’re vigorously defending our position. With the holiday period it makes it awkward,” he said. “It’s just disappointing. The timing of this almost seems like it was premeditated.”
“I think perhaps there are individuals in CASA who are responsible for orchestrating some of this.”
CASA’s Peter Gibson said further time was needed to investigate concerns about BA’s maintenance of their fleet.
“These allegations are very serious,” Mr Gibson said. “Obviously not maintaining an aircraft properly, fixing faults … puts at risk the entire safety of an aircraft during its flight. We can’t condone that in Australian aviation.”
CASA would not comment on whether current or former employees had approached them with evidence of maintenance problems on any of BA’s 34 planes.

© The Cairns Post

Barrier still in no-fly zone
Michael Serenc
Monday, January 7, 2013
© The Cairns Post
THE stand-off between Barrier Aviation and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has continued, with neither party taking any significant action since the airline was suspended from flying until February 15, 2013
Principal lawyer representing Barrier Aviation, Derek Perkins, said Barrier was still awaiting the results of CASA’s investigation.
“The cards are all in CASA’s hands in terms of the court process and their ability to maintain an investigation whilst the airline is suspended,” Mr Perkins said.
“CASA have been quiet and we’ve been quiet. Everyone’s got their heads down.”
In an open letter written to CASA on January 1, Mr Perkins estimated the airline was hemorrhaging $28,000 a day since being grounded and had suffered “severe reputational damage”.
Barrier’s sudden grounding, which was initiated by CASA on December 23, has affected the airline’s entire fleet of 34 aircraft and 55 staff, spread across their bases in Cairns, Darwin, Gove and Horn Island.
The regulator claims it has evidence of Barrier “directing pilots to fly with serious and known aircraft defects, as well as not recording those defects on aircraft maintenance documentation when the defects became known”.
The charter airline was initially handed a five-day suspension but that was extended by CASA after an application to the Federal Court.
CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said the regulator’s investigation was still ongoing.
“We’ve got a lot of material to work through. We have got a dedicated team working on it,” Mr Gibson said. “We’ll complete that as quickly as we possibly can.”
Mr Gibson said it was “too early to say” if CASA was on track to lift the suspension on the airline.
“Barrier have said to us that they were going to put a plan to us to address the issues that we’ve identified so far,” he said.
“Now, we haven’t seen that yet, but that may be of assistance.”
The airline has had strong support from fellow local operator Hinterland Aviation.

ABC News Friday 15th February 2013

Court orders grounded airline to mediation
By Sharnie Kim
Updated Fri Feb 15, 2013 1:53pm AEDT
PHOTO: Barrier Aviation has since had to stand down all its staff and says it is at risk of financial collapse. (ABC TV News – file image)
RELATED STORY: Grounded far north Qld airline fears closure
The Federal Court has ordered the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and grounded far north Queensland-based airline Barrier Aviation to go to a mediator.CASA suspended all of the airline’s operations in December last year amid serious safety concerns.Barrier Aviation has since had to stand down all its staff and says it is at risk of financial collapse.A CASA spokesman says mediation talks are expected to be held ahead of another Federal Court directions hearing next Friday.All Media Comments:Grounded Qld airline wants CASA probe sped up – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)Grounded airline seeks resolution with CASA – ABC Far North Qld – Australian Broadcasting CorporationMaintenance issues ‘across the board’ for grounded airline – ABC Far North Qld – Australian Broadcasting CorporationBarrier to safety removed in North Queensland skies _ Plane Talking

Barrier Aviation faces longer ban- Local Cairns News _ cairns.com

Grounded Qld airline wants CASA probe sped up – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)