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ABC – Four Corners

The following was a statement by PelAir to the ABC:

Broadcast 3 September 2012
Read the response from Pel-Air to questions sent by Four Corners in relation to the findings of the investigation into the ditching of a Pel-Air jet in the sea off Norfolk Island, in 2009.
Letter dated: Saturday 1 September 2012 Response dated: Monday 3 September 2012

We haven’t heard from you in relation to our last request for a clarification. We note the company leaders have declined to be interviewed by Four Corners. However, we would like to provide Pel-Air Aviation with a final opportunity to respond to some other questions about the ditching of VH-NGA. At this stage, it’s too late to include any responses in our program, but if provided, we will post them on our website.

Please find the questions below:

Q. How much blame is Pel-Air prepared to accept for what went wrong that night?
A. The Company accepts the findings of the ATSB report. [ATSB Final Report pdf]
Q. A CASA special audit of Pel Air’s operations found it had breached multiple civil aviation regulations and legislation. What has Pel-Air done to address these deficiencies?
A. Neither the CASA special audit nor the ATSB report identified any breaches of civil aviation regulations and legislation by the Company that related to the ditching. Refer to response (below) to the last question regarding action taken by the Company subsequent to the ditching. [CASA Special Audit]
Q. Were you surprised that Pel-Air did not come in for more criticism in the ATSB report, given the damning nature of the CASA special audit report?
A. No. The CASA findings were consistent with the ATSB report in relation to the ditching.
Q. Why was this special audit kept confidential? Was this done at Pel-Air’s request?
A. No, Pel-Air has no bearing on the way CASA dealt with this or any audit and the publication of its findings.
Q. Has Pel-Air attempted to speak of the survivors of this crash?
A. Yes we did attempt to speak to the survivors.
Q. Passengers say they have not received a single phone call from your airline? Is this true? If so, why?
A. No this is not true (see above).
Q. Has Pel-Air paid any compensation to the victims of this crash? If not, why not?
A. In accidents of this nature the Company is not allowed to deal with issues of compensation except through the insurance companies. However, the Company did offer financial assistance, on compassionate grounds and on a strictly without prejudice basis, pending the outcome of compensation claims.
Q. Has Pel-Air apologised to the victims or expressed any remorse/regret over the incident? If not, why not?
A. Expressions of regret have been made but the Company is restricted from further comments prior to the resolution of the insurance claims.
Q. Looking back, how could Pel-Air have done things differently to prevent this ditching?
A. The ATSB has fully investigated the matter and did not identify any major safety issues on the part of the Company that were related to the ditching.
Q. Looking back, was the treatment of pilot, Dominic James fair, in all the circumstances? Was he ever offered counselling or any sort of debriefing after the ditching?
A. Mr James was offered and accepted counselling sessions and undertook comprehensive debriefing after the ditching.
Q. In broad terms, what has the airline learnt from the incident?
A. The opportunities for improvement identified by the Company and documented in the ATSB report have all been implemented.
Return to Four Corners program: “Crash Landing”