View Full Version : In the air, there is no margin for error

12th Dec 2003, 06:42
From The Age, December 9, 2003

In the air, there is no margin for error

Australia must jealously guard its civil aviation safety record.

Australia has an admirable air safety record compared with the rest of the world, especially when it comes to commercial air travel. Of course, there have been tragedies in the country's civil aviation history. One such disaster led to the imposition of safeguards that set the course for civil aviation safety in this country for the next half-century. On a cloudy October afternoon in 1938, the Kyeema, pride of the Australian National Airways fleet, was on its way from Adelaide to Melbourne when it slammed into the side of Mount Dandenong. All 18 passengers and crew on board the DC-2 were killed instantly. An inquiry later found that the pilot thought he was 40 kilometres west of his actual position as he descended through the cloud. The crash was the turning point in civil aviation in Australia: the Department of Civil Aviation was established, taking away control of civilian aircraft from the Department of Defence.

Equally important were the introduction of updated radio and navigational systems. There have been other major accidents since - a DC-3 crashed in Hobart in 1946, killing 25 people; a DC-4 crashed in Perth in 1950, killing 28; a Fokker Friendship crashed in the sea off Mackay in 1960, killing 29; and a Vickers Viscount crashed near Port Hedland in 1968, killing 26. But Australia has been spared a major jet airliner crash with hundreds of victims, a tragedy too common in some parts of the world. It is a record born of careful monitoring and control of domestic air space.

Last month a new air traffic management system came into effect. The National Airspace System allows light aircraft into air space formerly reserved for commercial airliners. The new system involves a greater reliance on visual checks for other aircraft. Federal Transport Minister John Anderson has assured the aviation industry and the public that the system, in use in other parts of the world, is safe. Some do not agree. Pilots and air traffic controllers have imposed measures that will include reducing speed on approach to airports, which is likely to cause delays in services. Civil Air, the air traffic controllers' union, claims that since the system came into effect there have been as many as 20 "near misses". The most serious of these involved a Virgin Blue 737 and a twin-engine Cessna north-west of Melbourne last Wednesday. The incident, in which the 737's collision warning system was activated as it descended, is the subject of investigations by Air Services Australia, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and Virgin Blue.

To abandon the new system at this point seems a precipitate move. But Mr Anderson should order a full, independent inquiry into the Virgin Blue incident. If it is found that the new air space system cannot deliver a continuation of safe air travel in Australia, then the Government must review its implementation. It should not take another Kyeema to ensure safe skies.

Capn Bloggs
12th Dec 2003, 07:13
Here Here. This is ALL about Affordable Safety. C instead of E IS affordable, and should be reinstated immediately. The only one to suffer will be Richard. Too bad. His arrogance, disregard for safety of his fellow australian aviators (US NAS not the same as AUSNAS) blatant furphies about being safer, costing $50m less and politcial scullduggery amply demonstrate his unsuitability as member of the ARG.

Capt Claret
12th Dec 2003, 07:20
I am anti NAS. I can see no justification for allowing one type of operation, VFR, to be in the same airspace as another type of operation, IFR, without both being on the same radio frequency and talking with one another.

I believe the spin doctors of all the anti-NAS groups, CivilAir, AFAP, AIPA, etc. have made a fundamental error. We keep seeing media reports such as: The National Airspace System allows light aircraft into air space formerly reserved for commercial airliners.

To the best of my knowledge, pre NAS did not have airspace reserved for commercial airliners. Rather, the reality was that most of the airspace where commercial airliners (jets) operated was controlled and all aircraft were required to adhere to the same requirements to carry radio, have a clearance, and most importantly, there was positive separation.

Because of the reporting of this supposed reserved airspace, I believe the PR battle is not being won with Mr & Mrs average non pilot. I'm confident that many will think, "why should they preclude others from the airspace", and I'd have to agree with that sentiment, were it a true refflection of the old system.

So come on you advocates out there, make sure the press stop reporting about the loss of reserved airspace and report the mixing of IFR & VFR in the same airspace, possibly on different frequencies, and where VFR are encouraged to say nothing unless they perceive that there is a conflict, thus removing the IFR pilot from the information and decision making loop.