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VIPA has more to say in escalating war between users and providers

VIPA has more to say in escalating war between users and providers

The escalating row is continuing between #ASA and user groups, with the Virgin Pilot’s group the latest to weigh into the argument.

VIPA [Virgin Independ­ent Pilots Association], mounted a very carefully worded submission to David Forsyth’s ASRR, which was followed by support for pilot John O’Brien in his AAT battle with #CASA, which he eventually won.

Of course there is the current re-inquiry into the #PelAir accident and the role of #CASA and #ASA.

Jeff Boyd has a large and imperative job to undertake and must be up to the task

A summary is below:


Don’t forget, the Senate inquiry was the one that …discovered… the following:1. Failure by PelAir to 20.11 the crew;

2. That the life-jackets mal-functioned;

3. That the PelAir fuel management strategy was flawed;

4. atsb and casa’s refusal to raise the CVR and FDR;

5. There were doubts about the Chief Pilot and his relationship with #casa [Given a job as a FOI];

6. Issues of Fatigue management;

and of course:

7. Should the aircraft have been dispatched at all.


8. casa covered up it’s failings through the non-declared “chambers report” [aka chamberpot report];

9. Not legal for Unicom operator to contact PelAir flight [now inbound] and weather has turned to “sh1t” so aircraft continues to end up in 3m seas at night;

10. Lockhart River – again a person on the ground in Lockhart River who, in Dick Smiths words, could have advised of actuat conditions.


The Senate, among it’s 26 reccomendations, and other findings, went to a likely breach by casa [“McCormick”] of the TSI [Transport Safety Investigation Act], by not passing information to the atsb.

This is a serious matter, that Mrdak [Minister’s response to PelAir Inquiry] advised the Minister to “brush-off”, thinking it was all “….going to go away…”.

I am sure that the Senators have quite a different idea and will ensure that the matter goes to it’s proper finality and in a short time-frame:

  • A proper re-work and re-structure of the Aviation Acts;
  • Introduction of the US-FAR’s or NZ regs


Sky’s the limit but safety stops at 10,000ft

‘Wherever there is radar surveillance, we should provide a radar service to low level’: V

‘Wherever there is radar surveillance, we should provide a radar service to low level’: Virgin Independent Pilots Association spokesman Matthew Bowden. Picture: Cameron Laird Source: News Corp Australia

Air travel to and from some region­al airports is “nowhere near” as safe as it should be because­ available radar systems are not being fully used at lower altitudes, Virgin Australia pilots have warned.

Entering a growing debate over air safety, the Virgin Independ­ent Pilots Association called yesterday for greater use of radar and radar-like surveillance systems to guide planes at region­al airports.

VIPA spokesman Matthew Bowden, an experienced pilot, told The Australian yesterday that planes arriving at regional airports were typically switched off from radar surveillance and control at 10,000-12,000 feet.

He said this occurred even at airports that had radar or radar-like coverage well below these altit­udes, including Hobart and Launceston, Ballina in NSW, and Proserpine and Mackay in Queensland.

“There is low-level radar surveil­lance in place but we are not using it,” Mr Bowden said. He described this as mystifying, given the superior safety of radar contro­l.

Instead, at those airports that have air traffic control towers, controllers work to avoid collis­ions by “procedural separation”, based on pilots radioing in their positions and on visual observ­ations.

“There are multiple regional airports that have low-level radar coverage and we would advocate that, wherever there is radar surveillance, we should provide a radar service to low level — just like we do in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane (airports),” Mr Bowden said.

“Commonsense should prevail. If you can have the accuracy (of radar) available at Sydney and Brisbane then surely you can find a way of having the accuracy available at these regional airports.”

VIPA’s position adds to a string of concerns about regional air safety management in Australia, amid frustration that regulators are failing to maximise the use of radar and ground staff observations to assist pilots.

Newly appointed Civil Avia­tion Safety Authority chairman Jeff Boyd has foreshadowed a shift towards a safer US-style model, with improved control of regional airspace.

In response to VIPA’s latest concerns, an Airservices Australia spokesman said radar was used by air traffic controllers “in all types of airspace where coverage is available”.

Mr Bowden said some airports, such as Ballina and Proserpine, did not have air traffic control towers, but did have low-altitude radar that was not used.

He said that where it was available it should be used to extend the service provided by radar controllers, centralised in Melbourne and Brisbane, rather than merely as an add-on tool for local tower controllers.

In particular, full support by radar to low altitude was far safer in bad weather, when visibility was poor.

“In bad weather, a radar controller is watching us (on radar screen) all the way until we are established on approach (to the runway),” Mr Bowden said.

VIPA was “perplexed” as to why Airservices spent $6 million installing a radar-like system in Tasmania, capable of providing coverage to ground level, but still relied on the less safe procedural separation below 12,500ft.

“Why would you bother spending $6m, or any amount of money, on a radar surveillance system, if you are not going to let the radar controller use it?” Mr Bowden said.

Aviation sources said the Civil Aviation Safety Authority often did not approve the use of radar as the primary means of separating aircraft above regional airports because of patchy coverage. For example, coverage of the Tasmanian radar-like system is deemed by CASA to be insufficient below 7000ft. Instead, it is used only as an additional tool to assist tower controllers.

Pilots argue that any inadequacies should be addressed to bring existing radar up to scratch for use at lower altitudes.

Multiple industry sources say Airservices failed to install a sufficient number of ground signal units to support the use of the Tasmanian system to control aircraft below 7000ft.

Airservices argues this was not necessary because air traffic volumes in Hobart and Launceston are far below those of Sydney and Melbourne.

Mr Bowden said there may be a case for extending radar to other regional airports where it could be supported by cost-­benefit analysis. At the very least, where radar already existed, it should be used to maximise safety above region­al airports.

“It is nowhere near as safe as it could be if we used the (radar) surveillance in the way it is supposed to be used — by a radar controller,” he said.

Airservices and CASA insist all airspace is managed safely and in accordance with the level of air traffic experienced.

CASA said questions relating to radar use at low altitudes over regional airports were of an “opera­tional” nature and most appropriately directed to Airservices. By late yesterday, Airservices had declined to make someone available for interview. However, a spokesman — as well as saying air traffic controllers did make use of radar where available — defended Airserv­ices’ handling of the Tasmanian radar project.

“In Tasmania, the Wide Area Multi-lateration (WAM) ‘radar’ system … gives visibility of all aircraft down to the ground in Hobart and Launceston,” he said.

“The WAM system not only supports air traffic controllers in providing services that keep flights safely separated from other traffic, but also enables controllers to assist pilots with navigation, weather or terrain avoidance.”


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