Old 28th May 2014, 06:02
  #94 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Salt Lake City Utah
Posts: 3,052
A triumph of prejudice, dressed up as ‘safety’

Senator FAWCETT: Dr Navathe, there are two confounds with that approach. One very simple example is that in my past at military college they used to have language aptitude tests, theoretically derived tests. Our counterparts from countries in Asia were not normally sitting those. A Chinese origin Singaporean student sat the test, failed dismally, was told he had no aptitude for tonal languages. The similar confound for you is that pilots who had been safely flying for tens of thousands of hours have failed the CAD test and yet have demonstrated their ability to safely operate aircraft in not just one test but multiple check and training tests with multiple instructors.

So if the contention that Mr McCormick made is that CASA approached this on an individual capacity basis, as opposed to one rule, then you cannot discount the fact that a theoretical test will not necessarily determine an individual's ability to use other cues to operate an aircraft safely. You mentioned that they looked at internal and external lights. It is a proven fact that in aircraft that are modified for night vision imaging systems, where all the emitted light is filtered with something like a BG7 filter, the colour hierarchies are completely disrupted and yet air crew in fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft, normal colour pilots, quite safely operate those aircraft in terms of interpreting that internal information. Likewise with external information—the human body adapts. There are things like hypersteriopsis. For years we have said that that would make it impossible to fly, yet the body adapts to that. So what you are seeing, in the case of this pilot—I understand you attempted in 2009 to not renew his medical, but subsequently you gave it back to him to continue flying as a captain in an ATPL situation—is that he has not passed the CAD test but demonstrates that he as an individual is able to competently fly an aircraft by day, by night, in IFR conditions. From the point of view of procedural fairness and natural justice, is it a good use of taxpayers' money to take these issues through to well over $100,000 in an AAT hearing when there are proven methods of establishing the competence of an individual to operate an aircraft?

Mr McCormick: We do not know what the sum of money involved is but we will go with what you are saying at the moment. The overriding principle here, whether it is colour vision deficiency, hearing deficiency or any sort of impairment on the pilot, is safety. We are talking about going towards an ATPL, when there is no standard of which we are aware for issuing an ATPL anywhere in the world, for what would be the benefit of a number of pilots—I think we are talking about a few hundred pilots in total. I agree they should be able to do the best they can in their career but our responsibility is to maintain the safety of the Australian travelling public. When we get to the point where we are pushing the boundaries, where we are pushing the science, looking for other ways to get around what could possibility be indicated from the clinical side is a dangerous thing to do, we are starting to impact on my ability to discharge my duties under section 9 of the Civil Aviation Act, and that is to provide safety as outlined in that act.

If we wish to go there, then we have to go there in a measured manner. We will not go there on one basic flight test. I am sorry, but we will research this as much as necessary and, with all due respect, I will not be issuing an ATPL to a person who has failed the test as outlined in 67. We intend to do nothing with those who already have their licence and have their privileges. We are writing to them, as I mentioned to you the other day, to say that if they have had some change in their vision or if they think something has changed that will affect them, then perhaps they should discuss it with their own doctor or with their own DAME. I agree we should move forward, but we are already way out in front of half of the world, if not three-quarters or all the world, and as we move forward we will do it at a measured pace. When O'Brien goes through the AAT, we will see what the AAT has to say, what their preferred decision is, and that will give us the basis from which we can move forward, whether it be a practical test or whether it be a clinical test or whatever combination is required. To do it now unilaterally would be dangerous.
[Bolding added to substantive text.]


I am reminded of this, from Carl Sagan (with evident geographical amendments):
I have a foreboding of an Australian in my children's or grandchildren's time -- when Australia is a service and information economy; when nearly all the manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what's true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness...

The dumbing down of Australia is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.
When something is curtailed in the name of ‘safety’ and labelled ‘dangerous’, despite decades and tens of thousands of flying hours of evidence demonstrating the opposite, it appears someone is having difficulty distinguishing between what feels goods and what’s true.

The ‘precautionary principle’ has been described as the celebration of ignorance. But here, the regulator can’t even hide beyond the fear of the unknown. The results of the CVD experiment are already ‘in’. There is less risk of CVD causing an accident than appendicitis causing an accident. Yet pilots are allowed to fly around with a ticking time bomb inside them in the form of an appendix.

This goes beyond a celebration of ignorance. It is the triumph of the last remnants of prejudice against people ‘who shouldn’t be allowed to fly’ because we ‘feel’ it would be ‘safer’ if they didn’t.
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