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PelAir action has a reserved decision

The Supreme Court in Sydney today [6th February 2015], with Judge Monica Schmidt in Courtroom 9D, resulted in a “finding reserved” at 11.45PM on Friday.

The PelAir ditching, the first jet ditching in the world, where all survived in November 2009, seriously injured the Flight nurse, Karen Casey and the treating Doctor, David Helm. All six occupants were later rescued by the Norfolk Island recue boat, however, Dr Helm and Nurse Karen Casey were seriously injured during the event.

The hearing was well covered by the media, both print and television. The print media follows below and demonstrates the depth to which Karen Casey was subjected to extreme pressure by the insurer.

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Common Law Division - Civil [Supreme Court - SYDNEY]

Justice M Schmidt
Hearing

10:00 AM 2010/00385262

Karen Marie Casey v Pel-Air Aviation Pty Ltd
 4
Hearing

10:00 AM 2011/00046508
David Helm v Pel-Air Aviation Pty Ltd
 5
Hearing

10:00 AM 2014/00357770
Careflight Limited v Pel-Air Aviation Pty Ltd

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Journalist
Sydney

A NURSE who was seriously ­injured in a 2009 Pel-Air jet crash off Norfolk Island has told a court she found it “very disturbing” that secret footage had been taken of her by a private investigator ­acting for the airline’s insurer.

On the first day of hearings in the NSW Supreme Court yesterday, lawyers for Karen Casey said the nurse, who had been working aboard the Pel-Air medevac when it ditched into the ocean, would never work again and was in a “very, very bad way” with physical and mental health problems ­resulting from the crash.

Ms Casey and passenger David Helm are suing Pel-Air, a wholly owned subsidiary of Regional Express (or Rex) for damages over the accident.

The listed Rex, which is ­Australia’s biggest regional ­carrier, denies Ms Casey and Mr Helm are entitled to damages.

The court was yesterday played a 20-minute video shot in late December 2013 by a private investigator tracking Ms Casey’s movements, such as driving her car to the nearby shops, dropping her daughter off at a train station and in a Bunnings store where she bought shade cloth.

“I find this very disturbing,” Ms Casey told the court yesterday as the footage was being played.

“Especially if you look at the date which is around Christmas time which is a very busy time for family travel,” Ms Casey said.

Judge Monika Schmidt then asked Ms Casey to stop ­­­com­menting.

There were six people aboard the Pel-Air jet when it ditched into the ocean after running out of fuel when it was unable to land at Norfolk Island due to bad weather. All those aboard survived.

The accident and its aftermath have caused substantial controversy after it was revealed an Australian Transport Safety Board review had failed to mention 57 breaches or “serious deficiencies” at Pel-Air which had been identified by regulator the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority.

A Senate inquiry investigated that botched report and the ­federal government has called for a new investigation to be ­conducted.

Rex made unprecedented, massive political donations in 2012 — while the original investigation was ongoing — but has been unable to explain why it made those donations.

Between July and November 2012 the company donated $250,000 of shareholder funds to the federal ALP, $40,000 to the Liberal Party and $95,700 to the federal Nationals, making it one of the biggest political donors in the nation that year.

Rex has not made any political donations since, and its name did not appear in the 2013-14 political disclosure registers published yesterday.

Rex has repeatedly declined to comment when contacted by The Australian.

The court case continues.

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Pilot lashes out at air-safety watchdogs’ crash report

Journalist
Sydney

THE two government agencies responsible for policing aviation “publicly lied” about the full circumstances of a 2009 Pel-Air crash off Norfolk Island, the plane’s pilot has claimed.

Dominic James, who had his pilot’s licence temporarily suspended following the incident, said the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau had ­“significantly altered the findings” of an accident report. “Once this misconduct was disclosed, the (agencies) then lied quite publicly about what they knew and defended this unsound report,” Mr James told The Australian.

Two people involved in the crash of the medevac flight, nurse Karen Casey and doctor David Helm, have sued Pel-Air — an arm of Regional Express, or Rex — with the case being heard in the NSW Supreme Court this week.

After the accident it was revealed an ATSB investigation had failed to mention 57 breaches or “serious deficiencies” at Pel-Air which had been identified by CASA. Those revelations sparked a parliamentary inquiry that reported in December, leading the federal government to call on the ATSB to launch a new probe.

An external investigation was also undertaken by the Canadian Transport Bureau, which also found major problems with the existing report.

Questions are being asked over Rex’s government relationships after the small listed company donated almost $400,000 to the federal ALP and LNP between July and November 2012, while the ATSB and CASA investi­gations were ongoing.

Rex has repeatedly declined to comment when asked by The Australian why it made those ­political donations with shareholder funds.

The company has not made any donations since then and the only other political donations the company had ever made was $3486 to the ALP in the year to June 2004.

There were six people aboard the Pel-Air flight when it ditched into the ocean near Norfolk Island after running out of fuel, but no lives were lost.

Lawyers for Ms Casey, who was seriously injured in the crash, told judge Monika Schmidt she has suffered from severe physical and mental problems following the crash and will never be able to work again. Ms Casey and Dr Helm are seeking damages, while Rex is arguing it has no obligation to make any payments.

The case continues.

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