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Slam Dunk for CASA Board by Sandilands

Ben tells it how it is – He as well as other aviation people have been demanding answers – The answer by CASA [and the Board] is:

No answer

Now read on

Friday, February 14, 2014

CASA director of aviation safety to stand down

The Chair of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Board, Dr Allan Hawke, has today announced that Mr John McCormick will not be seeking a further term of appointment as Director of Aviation Safety.

Mr McCormick has, however, agreed, to the Board’s request to stay on in the position until 31 August 2014.This will allow for an executive search process to fill the position and enable the Director to assist the Board’s initial consideration of the Government’s Independent Review of Aviation Safety Regulation scheduled to be completed around the end of May.

The CASA statement says “Mr McCormick’s leadership over the last five years has been the critical factor behind the significant improvements to Australia’s aviation safety regulatory regime and CASA’s performance.”

The full, effusive, and ridiculous statement can be read here.

In the more than four years since the Pel-Air ditching near Norfolk Island CASA has failed to make any changes to the safety regulations relating to aerial ambulance flights like that being performed by the Westwind corporate jet involved even though it recognised they were deficient and vowed to change them in a timely manner.

Four years and three months is not timely. Or acceptable.

McCormick admitted during a Senate committee hearing inquiry into the final report into that accident by the ATSB that he had with held certain CASA documents from the safety investigator which said that the accident could among other things, have been prevented had CASA carried out its obligations to air safety and the oversight of the Pel-Air Westwind operation.

Mr McCormick apologised for his actions.  However the actions of CASA in not making available to the ATSB a document relevant to the crash of the jet, which referenced  the lack of a suitable refuelling policy for such operations at Pel-Air, was referred by the Senate committee to the Australian Federal Police for advice as to whether or not CASA had offended the Transport Safety Investigation Act  of 2003.

That reference has not as yet been returned to the Senators who made it. The Senators also heard testimony as to possible collusion between the ATSB and CASA over suppression or dismissal of evidence related to the crash.  The committee issued a report which was highly critical of the ATSB and CASA, and made recommendations with the then Transport minister Anthony Albanese ignored, and which his coalition replacement and deputy PM Warren Truss has yet to respond to.

(The same committee took the unprecedented step of devoting an entire chapter of their report to their dissatisfaction with the testimony of the chief commissioner of the ATSN, Martin Dolan.)

Under McCormick’s tenure the Queensland Coroner John Hutton said it was “unbelievable” that CASA had allowed an aerobatic pilot, Barry Hempel, pilot to keep his private licence up until the day he killed a joyflight customer, Ian Lovell, by crashing their aircraft into the sea near South Stradbroke Island.

The coroner found that CASA was fully aware of Hempel’s history of seizures and safety breaches but did nothing about them.

The inquest raised key parallels with CASA total failure of duty in relation to the Lockhart River Transair crash which killed 15 people in 2005, in which the safety authority knew that Transair was unsafe and in breach of the regulations but did nothing material and told a Senate inquiry that it had no duty of care to warn the public of unsafe operations.

That incident preceded McCormick’s appointment. Aspects of the Hempel crash and the Pel-Air crash strongly suggest that CASA’s culture of indifference to public accountability or the enforcement of safety rules haven’t materially changed under his tenure.

There is widespread dissatisfaction and alarm in the aviation community as to the competency, fairness and accountability of the safety regulator. McCormick’s replacement and the more timely and sensible and effective  overhaul of air safety regulations have been long argued for in the aviation community.