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An aviation researcher, writer, aviation participant, pilot & agricultural researcher. Author of over 35 scientific publications world wide.

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Will #casa properly investigate the #airservices input into this incident??

The REX SAAB which lost a propeller at 00:46 UTC on a flight from YMAY to YSSY according to Flightradar24, went some 40NM north of YSSY before landing on 16R.

A PAN call from a professional crew stating that the aircraft had lost a propeller and there is a diversion by ATC over inhospitable tiger country by an aircraft which is now a “single engine” twin RPT.

This is an outrageous situation that has been allowed to develop by the controller, who, although showing remarkable coolness, never-the-less does not bring the aircraft in immediately for a landing.

Quoting Ben Sandilands:

But there is no reason why a diligent Minister or the safety regulator itself should not initiate action to deal promptly with the prima facie case of a considered violation or disregard of the most fundamental of air safety practices involving twin engined airliners.

Civil Aviation Order 20.6.3.1 and 3.2 is relevant, with 20.6 saying, in part:

Section 20.6 (Continuation of flight with 1 or more engines inoperative)

3       Requirements

   3.1     When an engine of an aircraft fails in flight or where the rotation of an engine of an aircraft is stopped in flight as a precautionary measure to prevent possible damage, the pilot in command must notify the nearest Air Traffic Services Unit immediately, giving all relevant information and stating the action he or she intends to take in regard to the conduct of the flight.

   3.2     The pilot in command of a multi-engine aircraft in which 1 engine fails or its rotation is stopped, may proceed to an aerodrome of his or her selection instead of the nearest suitable aerodrome if, upon consideration of all relevant factors, he or she deems such action to be safe and operationally acceptable.  Relevant factors must include the following:

(a)   nature of the malfunctioning and the possible mechanical difficulties which may be encountered if the flight is continued;

(aa)  the nature and extent of any city, town or populous area over which the aircraft is likely to fly;

(b)   availability of the inoperative engine to be used;

(c)   altitude, aircraft weight, and usable fuel at the time of engine stoppage;

(d)   distance to be flown coupled with the performance availability should another engine fail;

(e)   relative characteristics of aerodromes available for landing;

(f)    weather conditions en route and at possible landing points;

(g)   air traffic congestion;

(h)   type of terrain, including whether the flight is likely to be over water;

(i)    familiarity of the pilot with the aerodrome to be used.


Ben Sandiland’s article today:


REX broke safety rule in last Friday’s lost propeller incident
How many times does an airline like REX ignore air safety rules before it is sanctioned?

Ben Sandilands
Editor of Plane Talking
The propeller-less REX flight after landing at Sydney
Opinion It’s time to call ‘bulldust’ on REX’s claims about being ‘abundantly cautious’ in grounding four or five SAAB 340 propjets for inspections following the loss of a propeller off one of a similarly powered aircraft while approaching Sydney Airport last Friday.If REX had been adhering to safety regulations it would have landed that flight from Albury to Sydney with 16 people on board at Canberra immediately after it had an initial malfunction in that engine.
Instead the crew is now known to have shut down the engine and feathered the propeller after noticing a vibration related problem while close to Canberra and electing to continue all the way to Sydney on one engine at a reduced altitude of 8000 feet until the propeller came off somewhere over the Macarthur area.This is contrary to the rules. The relevant regulation is found here:
https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2010C00633
Relying on the discretionary provisions of the regulation in relation to Canberra Airport would be an exercise in implausibility not to mention stupidity that has already captured the attention of the safety regulator CASA and the safety investigator the ATSB.

Had this happened in the US or most other first world countries when it comes to the enforcement of aviation safety regulations, REX would have been sanctioned, audited, and even had its equivalent of an air operator certificate put at risk of suspension or the imposition of special conditions.
It is against Australian, and worldwide air safety regulations, to fly an aircraft on a remaining operating single engine past the nearest available airport (if useable) to a more distant airport.

In the case of the REX flight from Albury the duration of flight past Canberra Airport to Sydney would have been in the order of 40 minutes or so. The opportunities for an emergency landing on one remaining engine had a further crisis eventuated are limited, but would have included Goulburn, at least one private strip at Gundaroo, and the sometimes busy general aviation airport at Camden, which is near where it is estimated the feathered propeller, which has has yet to be found, fell off.
REX has left itself open to suggestions that it broke the rules to gamble on nothing else going wrong in order to make a near to on-time arrival at Sydney Airport.

The ATSB is reported as saying that it is ‘very interested’ in the reason for the decision of the pilot in command to have continued past Canberra with a dead engine.
CASA is also known to have expressed concerns about the nature of this incident.

This is a major change of attitude on the part of the safety investigator, the ATSB, and the safety regulator, CASA, since an incident with some similarities occurred on a REX SAAB 340 service between Wagga Wagga and Sydney in November 2007.
That flight experienced an engine shut down shortly after taking off for Sydney and was also within close range of Canberra Airport when the crew in consultation with REX operations, continued to fly all the way to the intended destination on one engine.

After the 2007 incident REX said the pilot elected not to land at Canberra because of poor weather on the approach to that airport at the time. The ATSB even made excuses for REX on that occasion, but never coherently defended the willful breaking of a vital safety regulation nor answered the obvious questions as to why Goulburn, Griffith, Corowa or similar available airports weren’t used.

The ATSB investigation into this latest REX incident is in its early days. The close up photos of the break point between the missing propeller and the engine appear to indicate some sort of structural failure induced by stresses that may or may not have been affecting the assemblage even prior to the vibrations that caused it to be shut down while near Canberra. Whether the causes include structural as well as maintenance related factors remains to be determined.

But there is no reason why a diligent Minister or the safety regulator itself should not initiate action to deal promptly with the prima facie case of a considered violation or disregard of the most fundamental of air safety practices involving twin engined airliners.

There is a question of imminent risk to public safety if a requirement as basic to flight safety as this is treated in such an apparently cavalier manner.
If it was good enough to ground Tiger Airways in 2011 for its outrageous indifference to Australian air safety rules then surely some timely intervention in the oversight or conduct of REX flights is required without further delay.
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My Comment – Not Good Enough Rex !!
Sure this will be another CASA whitewash