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Nick Xenophon - The most important person in the future of Australian Aviation

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Nick Xenophon - The most important person in the future of Australian Aviation

Old 15th Sep 2010, 13:06
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Nick Xenophon - The most important person in the future of Australian Aviation

From Ben Sandilands Plane Talking blog comes this speech made by the man that stopped Minister Albanese's madness with regard to jump seat policy. The man that says Pokies are not ok, also says 200 hour pilots sitting in the right seat of high performance airplanes is not okay either.

This couldn't come at a better time. Independents are getting a say in Australian politics and have the spotlight on them right now. What is also happening right now is a push to dumb down our workforce more by offshoring jobs and bringing in lower and lower experience levels. All this whilst experienced pilots are in abundance.

Australia is not Europe/Asia, it has a a significant GA and Military sector that produces experienced pilots. The drive behind these new 'initiatives' is purely for the sake of $5 dollar fares. Its got to stop and as I've said before there is only so much juice you can squeeze out of the Aviation orange before something goes bang.

Nick Xenophon might be the man to close the holes in the swiss cheese. I recommend contacting him and giving him the information he will need to expose this major hull loss waiting to happen.

Perhaps its time for the tax payer and consumer to finally put his/her hand in his/her pocket and contribute towards our industry which has been the Australian Government cash cow and consumer bonanza for decades. As they say:you don't get something for nothing nor do you for $5 for that matter.

Here is the link :Plane Talking

Independent push for better air safety standards in Australia

September 15, 2010 Ė 5:35 pm, by Ben Sandilands

A 2008 photo of Senator Xenophon courtesy Wikipedia Commons

Nick Xenophon, the independent senator for South Australia, says he will move for a Senate inquiry into pilot training in Australia, and seek to remedy airline reluctance to report safety breaches to Australian authorities.

In a speech to the Australian and International Pilots Association last night he singled out the failures of Jetstar to promptly and fully report a nearly disastrous botched landing at Melbourne Airport in July 2007 , and the slashing of first officer experience levels to bare minimums at Qantaslink.

Xenophon, like the House of Representatives independents who currently support the Gillard minority Labor government, is in an unprecedented position to end the inaction of Australian governments over aviation issues.

And, although he didnít mention it in his address to the AIPA annual dinner, he voiced sentiments shared by the coalitionís spokesperson on aviation, Warren Truss, whose election promises included making Australia a world leader in pilot training.

These are some of the things Xenophon said last night, in the order that he said them, in the course of a fuller address, and a number of them have been highlighted in bold type.

For some reason, I seem to be the only Federal pollie that I see on the Tiger flights I travel on.

But whatever the airline, whenever you board the plane, you expect the pilot to have the skills to keep us all safe.

The public rightly expects that a reduced cost ticket doesnít mean reduced safety.

Whether itís a legacy carrier or a low-cost carrier, passengers trust the airline has spent the money and the time to ensure their pilots have the same skills, standards and safety levels across the board.

But, based on todayís trends in aviation training and standards, can we?

The airlines say they are trying to cut costs in order to make air travel more accessible.

However, when it comes to safety, cost cutting would have to be the worst form of false economy.

The fact is the cost of maintaining the sort of training and safety standards weíve enjoyed for so long could be as little as fifty cents a flight per passenger.

It is a pittance to pay for the level of world class safety your passengers deserve.

Overseas experience has shown us, though, that when airline safety is compromised by cost-cutting, people lose a lot more than money and time.

On February 12 last year in the United States, Continental Connections Flight 3047 took off from New Jersey for Buffalo in New York state.

It was a Bombardier Q-400 Ö the same plane thatís flown daily between Canberra and Sydney and around the regions.

Near its destination, the flight crashed into a residential area, killing 45 passengers, two pilots and two flight attendants and one person on the ground.

The US National Transportation Safety Board has since blamed pilot error and poor training for the crash.

It found that the planeís captain, Marvin Renslow:

ďHad not established a good foundation of attitude instrument flying skills early in his career, and his continued weaknesses in basic aircraft control and instrument flying were not identified and adequately addressed.Ē

ThE NTSB also found that First Officer, Rebecca Shaw, was exhausted from regularly commuting from Seattle to the East Coast and catching what sleep she could on the couch of the commuter airlineís office.

Thereís no doubt that the advent of low-cost carriers around the world has benefited tourism and trade in Australia and internationally.

In the past decade, air travel has grown by 7 percent per year and itís expected to remain at this rate of growth in years to come.

But has anyone stopped to ask, where will all the pilots to enable this travel come from?

And, more importantly, what training will they receive?

Iím very grateful for the work of former CASA Flying Operations Inspector and former Head of Pilot Training with National Jet Systems, Dick MacKerras, who has done extensive research into the issue of aviation safety and pilot training in Australia and around the world.

Historically, pilots were required to have a minimum of 1-thousand to 15-hundred hours of flying experience before they could get into the co-pilotís seat for a regional carrier.

But this standard is slipping, with many companies now thinking more about how they can fast-track pilots.

When passengers buy their airline ticket, do you think they realise that, in some cases, the plane might be flown by someone with as little as 200 hours of experience?

The 2007 pilots shortage saw a reduction in QantasLinkís required flight hours from 1000 hours of flight experience to just 200 for First Officers.

Three years on, and the standard hasnít been returned to the 1000 hour minimum.

When I heard this figure I was shocked.

It amazed me that the current minimum mandated requirement for flight hours before a pilot can gain their commercial licence is just 200 hours Ö and I suspect most Australians would have the same reaction I did.

After all, 200 hours is not much more than what a teenage driver requires to get their P-plates in some states.

In the United States, a minimum standard of 15-hundred hours flying hours is now required before they pilots can pilot a commercial passenger flight.

This wasnít some airline initiative, it was the initiative of Congress and President Obama, as a result of the Buffalo crash.

Most notably, the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act requires all commercial airline pilots to have completed a minimum of 15-hundred flight hours, in addition to appropriate operational experience, before they may begin piloting commercial passenger flights.

I believe we need to urgently review our current standards for flight experience in light of the US legislation.

There are a number of fantastic training programs in Australia, operated through airlines themselves, and many of which some of you may have received as part of your career.

But there are others which are inferior in quality, where training and minimum flight hours to obtain a pilots licence are not standardised.

It is then up to the discretion of the airline who they employ and, given the corporate push to reduce costs and expenses, itís not improbable to assume some airlines will go for the cheapest employee.

The end result will be more pilots with minimal experience flying planes across Australia.

Thatís why it is crucial that appropriate standards are put in place now, before any disaster occurs.

Itís also vital that standards of aircraft type and recurrent training are implemented, especially for pilots who do enter with low levels of experience.

On 21 July 2007, a Jetstar Airbus A320-232 was being flown from Christchurch to Melbourne.

Upon its approach into a foggy Melbourne, the pilot in command did not perform the go-around procedure correctly and, in the process, the crew were unaware that the aircraft was continuing to descend.

The aircraft came within 38 feet of the ground before anyone realised.

After re-climbing, the pilot then attempted to land a second time but this had to be diverted again due to the fog. The plane eventually landed safely at Avalon airport.

Upon their return to New Zealand, the crew reported the incident to the airline operator, who took five days Ė five days Ė before reporting the incident to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

It was later revealed, however, that the internal report given to the ATSB by the operator excluded key information which led to the authority determining that a formal investigation was not required.

It was only after media reports some months later that the ATSB made further inquiries into the incident and discovered the withheld information.

It seems the information given to the ATSB at first instance did not the whole story.

The ATSB subsequently found that an investigation was required and its report was highly critical.

Jetstar subsequently adopted Airbusís standard procedures for go-arounds, and instigated a review of its third party training procedures.

At the time, Jetstarís General Manager of Safety was John Gissing, who is now the Executive Manager of Safety at Qantas.

And the CEO of Jetstar at the time, Alan Joyce of course is now CEO of Qantas.

The 21st July incident may not have seen the light of day, had it not been for third parties coming forward with information.

You must ask the question, how many other incidents have not been reported and investigated because of flawed reporting protocols.

We have to do whatever it takes to ensure we retain our reputation as a first-class aviation industry.

Jetstar now has two Australian-registered planes based out of Singapore, with one of those planes due to be in service by the end of this year.

The airline has recently advertised for 15 A-330 Captains and 23 A-330 First Officers to crew these planes.

But the current proposal being put up would actually allow Jetstar to pool its pilot talent, enlisting pilots from across the world.

While this seems reasonable at first glance, does it mean that pilots from overseas will be required to have the same standards and experience as Australian-based pilots?

Professor Arnold Barnett, a leading expert on aviation safety at MITís Sloan School of Management, recently published a study on aviation safety records.

He looked at accident risk in the air and found that over the period 2000 to 2007, the average worldwide passenger death risk per scheduled flight was 1 in 3 million.

But the worldwide average reflects the actual risk level in few, if any countries.

Narrowing this down, the study found that in first world nations, which includes Australia, the accident death risk per flight was found to be 1 in 14 million departures.

Meanwhile, in advancing nations Ė which includes China, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand Ė itís a lot lower, at 1 in 2 million departures.

In least developed nations, such as Indonesia and Vietnam, Professor Barnett says the risk of death is approximately 1 in 800,000 departures.

I believe there is an urgent need for a Senate Inquiry into aviation training and standards in Australia, and I will move for that when the Senate resumes in two weeksí time.

I, for one, would like to see Alan Joyce and John Gissing tell a Senate Committee a little more about that July 21 incident and what happened in the days following.

The other, more immediate, change I intend to push for when I return to Canberra, is an overhaul of reporting protocols in the Transport Safety Investigation Act.

Flight crews should not be reporting to airlines, who then choose what to do with information and what information to provide to authorities.

Some airlines could have a commercial incentive to downplay incidents and that is not good enough.

That is why I will seek changes to require flight crews to report directly to aviation authorities.

The bean counters shouldnít decide what aviation authorities find out.

In the United States, the reporting system is significantly different.

There, the culture is geared much more towards encouraging pilots to report and discuss incidents, with this information used in training and to prevent future problems.

Those who provide information to the FAA are indemnified from prosecution even if they were responsible for the incident.

In contrast, here in Australia, pilots who speak out about incidents donít have the same sorts of protections and a fear factor may stop some from coming forward.

Quite simply, we have to change the way we do things, and go back to the sorts of practices that kept our skies safe for so long

Last edited by Mr. Hat; 15th Sep 2010 at 21:25.
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Old 15th Sep 2010, 13:15
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Was present for this speech and can say that I've never before seen a politician cover a special interest issue as comprehensively as this within a short timeframe. Perhaps there's hope for parliament yet.

The man clearly has the motivation to carry our banner forward and has a proven track record when it comes to knocking over idiotic ministerial policy (did it tickle Mr. Albanese?)

Follow the leader.
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Old 15th Sep 2010, 13:25
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And from ABC Lateline Business (TV and Website) last night:

Pilot training program raises safety fears

Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Broadcast: 14/09/2010
Reporter: Karen Barlow
Pilots have raised concerns that a pilot shortage may be putting the squeeze on training and jeopodising airline safety.

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Airlines say safety is their number one priority, but pilot training may be putting that at risk.

The worldwide pilot shortage and low-cost airlines are putting the squeeze on carriers and pilots say that the pressures are being passed onto them.

In the past few years, commercial co-pilots have been allowed to fly after just 200 hours in the air training experience, when previously they were required to clock up 1,000 hours.

Pilots and the independent Senator Nick Xenophon say the aviation industry must learn from a number of serious recent incidents.

Karen Barlow reports.

KAREN BARLOW, REPORTER: In this Melbourne fog on July 21st, 2007, the pilots on a Jetstar A320 made a botched attempt to land.

Alarms sounded in the cockpit as a plane came within 11-and-a-half metres of the tarmac before the landing was aborted.

BARRY JACKSON, PILOTS ASSOCIATION: In this particular incident there was obviously a misunderstanding and it became fairly close to a fairly major tragedy.

KAREN BARLOW: It was a routine emergency, but the two pilots were not trained properly on that particular aircraft.

Jetstar didn't report the breach to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau until almost two months later.

BARRY JACKSON: Basically those sort of incidents have to be reported within 48 hours and that wasn't done in this particular case.

KAREN BARLOW: The ATSB was satisfied by Jetstar's explanation of the incident and the airline was never sanctioned.

Jetstar today stands by its safety procedures.

JETSTAR AIRWAYS, STATEMENT (female voiceover): "Jetstar has a proactive safety culture and as part of this we adhere to all ATSB reporting requirements."

KAREN BARLOW: The Jetstar near miss concerns independent Senator Nick Xenophon and he wants a Senate inquiry into aviation training and safety standards.

NICK XENOPHON, INDEPENDENT SENATOR: There are some unanswered questions there and I think if we want to look at systemic issues relating to air safety in this country, then we need to revisit what happened on 21st July, 2007.

KAREN BARLOW: Pilots are wanted people. There's a world-wide shortage now and over the next 20 years, an extra 22,500 pilots will be needed.

BARRY JACKSON: Well, airlines will try and fast-track their training, try and get them into the operational seat earlier then probably traditional-type training would involve.

KAREN BARLOW: First officers or co-pilots are only required to have 200 hours of in-the-air training at Jetstar.

That's down from an industry standard of at least 1,000 hours in the sky several years ago.

Last year, United States legislators increased the minimum flight hours from 200 to 1,500 following a fatal crash.

Investigators blame the crash on pilot error and poor training.

In Australia Jetstar stands by its cadet pilot training program which began in June.

JETSTAR AIRWAYS, STATEMENT (female voiceover): "The training programs offered by Oxford Aviation and CTC are what have been employed for decades by some of the world's leading airlines across Europe and Asia."

KAREN BARLOW: Jetstar's main competitor Virgin Blue also trains its own pilots.

VIRGIN BLUE GROUP OF AIRLINES, STATEMENT (male voiceover): "Our pilot training regimen is regularly benchmarked against international standards as part of our program of continuous improvements."

KAREN BARLOW: Aviation is the still the safest form of transport in the world, especially in Australia. Industry experts say that reputation is always at risk from human error.

DICK MACKERRAS, AVIATION CONSULTANT: There are a lot of pressures, financial pressures. The low-cost carrier model, which is now endemic around the world, puts a lot of financial pressure on organisations which they tend to transfer unfortunately to their pilots.

BARRY JACKSON: We'd like to see a proper appraisal of where the industry is going because there is a line in the sand that we don't wanna be mourning passengers on a commercial jet in this country because it could have been avoided.

KAREN BARLOW: The independent South Australian Senator will move for a Senate inquiry into the aviation industry when Parliament resumes in a fortnight.

Karen Barlow, Lateline.


If beancounters think that pilots and training are expensive, they would be overwhelmed a thousand fold by the impact of a major accident. Clearly the momentum is building from many directions against this commercial madness - we need champions like Xeno to push to regulate it into oblivion - lets get behind him!
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Old 15th Sep 2010, 14:31
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Thank you Roller Merlin for showing that not even one of the more reputable news outlets can get their facts straight. The pressure on journalists to get their stories prepared for evening broadcast shows in the number of factual mistakes they make.

the pilots on a Jetstar A320 made a botched attempt to land
They didn't botch the landing but the missed approach procedure. Was their any mention of Jetstar changing the procedure contrary to Airbus' advice? No.

First officers or co-pilots are only required to have 200 hours of in-the-air training at Jetstar
WTF did that come from? The cadet scheme has a long way to run before anything like that becomes a reality.

The trouble with the media, and more particularly television, is that it is driven by the sound bite. I have had recent experience of seeing what has happened when a reasonably long interview gets carved up for a news broadcast. A lot of points that you feel should be expressed wind up on the editing room floor (figuratively speaking in this digital age) and I suspect that is what happened last night.

What Sen. Zenophon is trying to do is necessary but it needs to look at far more than just pilot training. The aviation industry in Australia is in a mess and it is getting worse. Pilot training is merely part of the problem.
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Old 15th Sep 2010, 21:22
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The thread isn't an attack on Jetstar flight standards. The thread is about companies employing people with less and less experience in order to save money. It could even be extended to other areas such as the farcical security measures or the ridiculous airport infrastructure.

Bigger fish to fry.
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Old 15th Sep 2010, 21:42
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from the atsb report;

Pilot in command
Licence type Air Transport Pilot (Aeroplane) Licence (ATPL(A))
Total hours 6,500 hours (2,500 B717)
Total hours on type 1,580 hours

Licence type ATPL(A)
Total hours 5,000 hours
Total hours on type 500 hours

i'm confused to why this incident is being associated with the low time pilot argument.
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Old 15th Sep 2010, 21:56
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i'm confused to why this incident is being associated with the low time pilot argument.
It is merely being used as an example of why training is needed, and why high standards are required. I am sure many other countless examples could be used from any of the major or minor carriers from here or abroad.
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Old 15th Sep 2010, 22:08
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Because it's symptomatic of poor training or systems knowledge.

A go-around isn't exactly a difficult procedure. TL's into TOGA detent, follow FD's and away you go.

This Xenphon approach is exactly what's required an at just the right time, with J* looking to further dilute pilot skill levels by offshoring and employing the cheapest pilots they can find.

Whilst pilot salaries etc are important, public safety is even more important. The Reason/Swiss Cheese model where the 'accident holes' are all starting to line up is very relevant here.

The silly old 2 Airline policy might have been a cumbersome duopoly but at least the public was safe. Deregulation seems to have accompanied insufficient regulation of experience and safety levels. One hopes that the Colgan accident (plus the Garuda accident and the impact it had on Aussie passengers) will be all that is needed to convince pollies and the media that where a pilot has been trained and how many hours he has can have a direct impact on whether they see their kids that night. Sounds melodramatic but it's true.

Good post Mr Hat and good luck Mr Xenophon.
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Old 15th Sep 2010, 22:14
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The Independent Senator is very well respected politician.

He has always endeavoured to present well researched POV into the political discussions.

And he will stand up for a cause.

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Old 15th Sep 2010, 22:16
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Here is the opportunity to get someone that has some real pull to speak on our behalf and we're getting defensive about this that and the other.

Let me relieve you of your confusion. He used the incident to highlight that hull losses are real and can happen even though the concept is far from the Australian public's mind as that sort of thing doesn't happen here. He also used the example to highlight deficiency in the reporting culture. As in why would a company Red, Silver, Blue or Yellow dob itself in?

Amazing, if you deleted the reference to the particular Airline and more specifically a possible critiscm of a pilot's actions it would be seen as a major boost to our cause.
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Old 15th Sep 2010, 22:20
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Nick is a hero for getting up speaking about where all of this headed.

Forge ahead Nick and pull those gready CEO's back into reality!
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Old 15th Sep 2010, 22:28
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Even better write him an email and give him some inside knowledge on what you have experienced in your time in the industry.

Nick Xenophon - Independent Senator for South Australia

Senat[email protected]
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Old 16th Sep 2010, 00:00
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IMHO, the most important "Sticky" in PPRuNe History.

Mr Hat has hit the nail on the head equal. Experience, the lack of or even the amount, is sometimes difficult to quantify with respect to the accident statistics. What "Colgan" showed to the US people and the Senate is that if you constantly attack pilots wages and conditions you will end up with an inferior product, sometimes not shown in just hours in the logbook. Pilots worked to the absolute max. Pilots unable to afford to live in the city of their base. Pilots flying whilst unwell because they will suffer further financial hardship if they go sick! Pilots not having their minds on the job because of the previously mentioned factors! Pilots in cockpits that are only there because higher quality candidates walk away from the deals on offer shaking their heads!

Airline Cadetships in this country ( with the exception of the previous QF) are becomeing fasionable because of one thing only, Cheap Labour! They will lead to the negative flightdeck environments we have seen in other countries so poisonous to overall airline saftey. The proposed Jetstar Cadetship is probably the most cynical and dangerous example of a management style gone completely out of control!

Senator Xeonophon's startled observation that experience requirements haven't returned to pre 2007 levels is crucial in redressing this trend. It is vital that Australia follows American's lead. It won't be popular with some sectors, but it is the only way the profession, and overall airline standards will move back to where the travelling public rightfully expects it to be!
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Old 16th Sep 2010, 00:28
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Investigators blame the crash on pilot error and poor training.

In Australia Jetstar stands by its cadet pilot training program which began in June.

JETSTAR AIRWAYS, STATEMENT (female voiceover): "The training programs offered by Oxford Aviation and CTC are what have been employed for decades by some of the world's leading airlines across Europe and Asia."

KAREN BARLOW: Jetstar's main competitor Virgin Blue also trains its own pilots.

VIRGIN BLUE GROUP OF AIRLINES, STATEMENT (male voiceover): "Our pilot training regimen is regularly benchmarked against international standards as part of our program of continuous improvements."
I think there is some serious blurring of the issues about pilot training. Virgin Blue and Jetstar do not do their own training. Pilots pay a sub contractor to do the training independantly once they pass their rating they then are employed by the airline on the baisis of that rating. This is directly opposed to QF mainline, the Asian carriers mentioned in the ABC report and how Ansett did it. The Asian carriers sub contract their commercial pilot training, often to pilot schools in Australia, then do their endorsement training in house.

The Jetstar pilots in this incident were trainined by a sub contractor and paid for out of their own pocket. Let's not blurr CAR 217 CHECKING as 'in house training' 'cause it ain't, it is testing done on behalf of CASA to maintain our licenses.

Maybe a full review of pilot training and checking is in order in this country
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Old 16th Sep 2010, 01:52
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Many of those who thought Xenophon a dill for opposing poker machines now think he's an intellectual for taking this stand. He's one or the other.

I understand when you're in a corner that you'll hang your hat on anything that seems to be favourable to your cause, but if not consistent, you are the ones who appear dills.
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Old 16th Sep 2010, 01:54
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We also need to ban former senior airline management from CASA regulatory and CEO positions. This is clearly a conflict of interest with the possibility of favours being done for former employers and mates.
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Old 16th Sep 2010, 03:36
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DM's involvement in this certainly is an interesting one... being one of the dictators of a C+T system, sorry regime... that had floors galore; and which in turn failed it's own pilots circa 2008 and the hard-landing occurence in DN. I find his comments intriguing, yet not surprising...
Old 16th Sep 2010, 05:02
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Maybe a full review of pilot training and checking is in order in this country
I could not agree more.
A pilot with minimal experience who has gone through an excellent training system may well be suitable as an F/O.
The problem really lies with, which aviation company provides quality training, and just as important a quality check organization.
With third party endorsements, less than ideal line training and the pseudo checking what chance would a pilot with low hours have.

I used to believe that it was a fault within the company I was working for, now I sternly believe the entire Aus aviation industry is in a huge downward standards spiral, and it won't change until some poor bugger hits the bottom.

I will be writing to the good senator and offering inside information. If nothing else, it will have the hairs on his head standing up.

DM aviation consultant, hahahahahahahahaha
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Old 16th Sep 2010, 06:49
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The Good Senator mentions QLink standards, well the first QANTAS Cadets taken in 2007/2008 are now getting commands and given positions as instructors in the sim.
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Old 16th Sep 2010, 06:55
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We also need to ban former senior airline management from CASA regulatory and CEO positions. This is clearly a conflict of interest with the possibility of favours being done for former employers and mates.
Aviation needs an ongoing type of "Royal Commission", where witnesses appear, under oath, and tell the truth.
Very important and accurate needs to squeeze the puss out of the festering boil of the industry. I would add to quote #1 that ex military "wallahs" be pissed off as well.

It is said that a politician only calls for a Royal Commission when he knows what the outcome is going to be. At this hiatus in government, neither party has this luxury.

Bring it on Mr Xenophon.
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