Australia, New Zealand & the Pacific Airline and RPT Rumours & News in Australia, enZed and the Pacific

Merged: Senate Inquiry

Old 6th Apr 2011, 02:02
  #901 (permalink)  
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Senator Xenophon, over to you, Sir!
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Old 6th Apr 2011, 02:44
  #902 (permalink)  
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Interesting to see Alan Joyces backflip and support for the carbon tax on the 7:30 report.

I wonder if he supports Julia on that if Julia will support him on offshoring Australian jobs. A coincidence?
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 00:16
  #903 (permalink)  
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Pilot Fatigue

G'Day all

A News link regarding pilot fatigue
BBC News - One in five pilots 'suffer cockpit fatigue'
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 00:28
  #904 (permalink)  
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from the article (my bold):
Standardising rules
At the moment, the rules for UK airlines are set by the regulator and are some of the toughest in the world. But airlines from other European countries operate under their own rules.

Not only that, but the rise of low-cost airlines has changed the way the industry works. For example, their crews will do far more take-offs and landings within their hours than pilots on long-haul flights, who spend more time cruising on autopilot.

So the European authorities want to standardise regulations across the continent.
Notice how the rules are managed to the lowest common denominator.

Civil Aviation Legislation Amendment (Mutual Recognition with New Zealand) Act 2006 will allow airlines to engage in regulatory arbitrage to the lowest common standard within the Australian / NZ zone.
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 00:30
  #905 (permalink)  
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Take care.

BBC News - Selby rail crash car driver Gary Hart blames 'fate'
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 00:50
  #906 (permalink)  
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"Now there are warning systems that tell you you are deviating from the correct altitude but they are not excessively loud - it would be easy enough to sleep through that, and I probably don't need to tell you what the consequences of that are."
The solution is to make them louder so they wake the pilots up as they are all too lazy and falling asleep on the job.

Balpa would like the new regulations to be set at the tougher, UK level. But other countries would be likely to object, saying that would be too much regulation and would damage their airlines
This industry has painted itself into a corner. The one thing you can't change, no matter what, is Human Factors. Humans have a limit and beyond that limit the only guarantee you have is a sharp degradation in performance.
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 02:17
  #907 (permalink)  
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Update on Malfeasance Central

The malfeasance continues. The latest offerings on behalf of CASA senior management as follows -

1/ The screaming skull and friends are desperately trying to pinpoint the source or identity of those tipping the dirt on the poorly run malevolent outfit. It is more like an avalanche really and is gathering momentum by the day. Unless the executives are brought to account the campaign will continue relentlessly. Rather than fix the problem CASA again choose to commence a witch hunt and intimidate staff, suspects and anybody else they choose. No laws or morals adhered to with this mob.

2/ Mr Alleck pulled the pin on several projects of late. First was CASA's setting up a training organisation similar to that which the Singaporean CAA run. Over $500 000 has thus far been spent only to be canned after the FAA and ICAO walked away happy after recent activities. Another $500 000 has been put on ice, but the project not ‘officially’ canceled, the reason being that on the books the project appears to be ongoing and as a result no uncomfortable questions are raised at the senate estimates asking where the remainder of the money is and why has a further $500 000 been flushed away. Sneaky indeed, and this has gone on for years but the time has come to open the can of worms on CASA antics and the way CASA fools the senate and ministers. No risk assessment was conducted at any stage as to the impact of any restructure, which is no surprise due to the way the whole saga has been exercised. Furthermore staff have again been screwed and industry denied a positive change. It is becoming more evident that the ASOP working group who achieved nothing in 3 years and wasted over $5 million not completing34 projects and subsequent projects oover-sighted by Mr Alleck, Mr Boyd, Mr Harbor and others is shaping up to be CASA's greatest waste of taxpayer money yet. Great work isn't it? Senators, please check the ‘real books’ and accounting practise’s over the past 10 years for a start, you may be shocked at what you find if you forensically analyze the books.

3/ Just coming to light is CASA's foreign agency branch debacle. This department ran seperate to normal operations and has provided assistance to the EU and Indonesia and contributed to several carriers regaining international status. However, Terry F, Skull and Gary H personally tore the department apart after several years operating. As a result $200 000 went down the gurgler while Alleck toyed with a restructure and staff apparently did nothing. Even worse, Alleck employed a former journalist from infrastructure to run the agency, and run it into the ground. This former journalist also destroyed PASO, and the total mess is sloppy and ongoing I have been instructed, and I have been provided with documentation. Again, no risk assessment conducted, just a bureaucrat and his personal ego and self centered pride. Very dangerous territory. This man also fancies himself as an international guru of relations yet he has caused untold damage. Even ICAO were desperate to kick him off the international counsel when he was a member. How can a thesis writer who wouldn’t know a coil from systems analysis know how to manage an aviation department?

4/ International operations. Interesting how Senator Heffernan asked Joyce about CASA and ATSB's funding and whether more funds are needed? Mr Alleck has had oversight also of that departments demise as it operates short staffed, without proper leadership and within an environment that has seen a rapid growth in low cost international operations. Many many FOI's are desperately concerned that a foreign operator with Aussies on-board is going to spear into the ground. This is what happens when CASA politicians are in charge and when they have no aviation and safety background. The hierarchy is out of control, making perilous moves when not sipping Chateau Le Blanc and eating truffles at ICAO gigs. The fish is rotting at the head Senators. Staff numbers are being cut and oversight contracted out to mates rates consultants who are not interested in safety but rather where they will but their next property investment courtesy of the taxpayer.

5/ FOI's are enduring cuts to line training, currency and type certification. This has been pushed by budget cuts enforced by senior management. Again, no risk assessment or analysis has been undertaken. Money comes first and safety last. And you think Jetstar has issues? Minimal training in any field is being provided which in turn is creating an inspectorate of underperforming staff. AWI's are not receiving latest technological training for systems.

6/ Harassment and intimidation continues from senior managers down to field office managers. A recent survey has lambasted the executives, field office managers and as usual the HR bullies. How much is enough. Numerous unions are in agreeance with the inspectorate regarding the viscous and intimidating manner in which the executives are treating staff and industry members. The Brisbane field office manager has been bullying staff verbally and intimidating staff. The Sydney and Melbourne field office managers have done the same but also added to sexual harassment to their list of misdemeanors. It is thoroughly out of control.

7/ FRMS. Fatigue is plaguing staff numbers with inspectors overloaded and burning out. Interesting is that another issue has been CASA's slapped together poor industry forums relating to FRMS which has met great disdain from industry due to the unprofessional sloppy manner it has been thrown out there. This is under the explicit direction of Terry F and P Boyd. Both these men have been instrumental in several large scale botched projects and have well and truly passed their use by date. You cannot have a former and questionable pilot and a corporate incompetent running projects any longer. Its time to go.

8/ Board members. Another drain on resources. Since the introduction of the board, demise of Byron and introduction of the Skull CASA has sunk to even lower levels of incompetence. More money is wasted and more problems exist. A board that makes glossy brochures containing a multitude of wank words does not justify its existence. Time to cut it loose.

I have been contacted with emails of support for the crusade I am championing, to those I say thank you. I also appreciate the level of encouragement and words of wisdom and warning. I fear no legal reprise, CASA already stole my livelihood. As for embarrassing the Minster, I have not done this, the Minister has done that to himself by not doing his job correctly and managing his portfolio effectively and accurately. For those of you who feel I and others merely have an axe to grind over prior minor injustices, you are far from correct. Truths will continue to be aired until the day that this whole debacle and farcical organisation is held to account. Remember one thing friends, as long as this industry's dangerous condition continues to exist, it is mine and your families who are in danger.
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 03:34
  #908 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by breakfastburrito View Post
from the article (my bold):
Notice how the rules are managed to the lowest common denominator.

Civil Aviation Legislation Amendment (Mutual Recognition with New Zealand) Act 2006 will allow airlines to engage in regulatory arbitrage to the lowest common standard within the Australian / NZ zone.

There is a simple solution to this entire mess, and would ensure that the political and legislation issues within CASA are dealt with, and would ensure a uniform high standard in aviation between both Australia and New Zealand.

Simply sack everyone at CASA, and expand CAA NZ to have jurisdiction over both countries. Former CASA employees could apply for new Australian positions within the new Trans Tasman CAA, naturally with their previous experience and performance taken into account when selecting the best people for the job. The poorly written, incomplete and confusing regulations in Australia would be superseded by the New Zealand rules, which are IMHO far clearer and more sensible than the mess of Australian CARs, CAOs, and CASRs.

It has been done before (see Food Standards Australia New Zealand), and could quite easily be done again if there were the political will. There would be natural synergies by having one regulatory structure, delivering savings on costs, and providing a more efficient service to the aviation industries and general public of both Australia and New Zealand.

Then again, I'm just a pilot, what would I possibly know about aviation?
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 07:16
  #909 (permalink)  
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Just a FYI for all those wondering if new legislation requiring all RPT crewmembers to hold an ATPL will result from this hearing.

The laws signed in the USA have a 3yr compliance date from signing date.
That means they will not take mandatory effect until 1 Aug 2013.

The Colgan crash happened in mid Feb 2009, law signed July 2010 with a 3 yr window. Hardly a speedy response to the whole safety issue supposedly being helped by this law.
Whether or not it benefits safety it could and should have been enforced in a much shorter window. Reqmts for an ATPL have been around for ever, so no hidden surprises there.

In the meantime the very low hour hiring continues for all the regional min wage jobs, effective salaries being less than or close to $10-12 /DUTY HOUR for 1st several years of service as an FO. Capt are not that much better.

The law reads--

Title II, Sections 216 and 217 make up what’s referred to as the “1500 Hour Rule.” Read the complete or abbreviated text of these sections below.
(B) ALL FLIGHT CREWMEMBERS.—Rules issued under paragraph (1) shall ensure that, after the date that is 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, all flightcrewmembers—
(i) have obtained an airline transport pilot certificate under part 61 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations; and
(ii) have appropriate multi-engine aircraft flight experience, as determined by the Administrator.
(1) NUMBERS OF FLIGHT HOURS.—The total flight hours required by the Administrator under subsection (b)(1) shall be at least 1,500 flight hours.
(f) DEADLINE.—Not later than 36 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall issue a final rule under subsection (a).

If it comes to pass here in Aust I wonder how long a compliance window there will be. Enough for these cadet schemes ripoffs to continue???
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 07:25
  #910 (permalink)  
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$10-12 /DUTY HOUR for 1st several years of service as an FO. Capt are not that much better.
Better off going to another industry if thats the future!
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 08:18
  #911 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Yes mr hat that is true.
Pay is quoted per min contract flt hrs which appears at approx 21-25 for a 1st yr FO for eg but that is for usually 75hrs /mo flt. at approx 40hrs duty per week that is approx 10-12/hr. Disgusting given the responsibility involved.
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 10:39
  #912 (permalink)  
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Did you see the M. Moore video on the other thread. Stirring stuff.
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 11:11
  #913 (permalink)  
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Toughen up Princesses

Message Recounts Fatigue Flying in Early Morning Hours

In an e-mail to pilots, the airline’s chief pilot for Perth, Australia, Jetstar operations, claims he is tired throughout a back-of-the-clock (midnight to 6 a.m. flight) but not fatigued. The captain for the airline admonished his fellow pilots, “Toughen up, princesses!”

The 7 January 2011 e-mail was made public at a hearing into aviation training standards by the Australian Senate. “It’s hugely concerning that we have pilots telling each other to ‘toughen up princesses’ because they raise concerns about lengthy shift hours and the impact that could have on the safety of passengers,” Senator Nick Xenophon said in a statement.

JetStar CEO Bruce Buchanan was not aware of the memorandum, to which Xenophon declared, “The potential intimidation in this e-mail is alarming and indicates that there may be a bullying culture among pilots.”

This accusation seems a stretch. If the Perth base was closed and pilots shifted to Melbourne, much of the back-of-the-clock (BOC) flying would be eliminated, to be sure. At the same time, pilots residing at in Perth would be faced with the expense of moving base (and family) to Melbourne.

It should be noted that pilots of cargo airplanes do most of their flying BOC to meet early-morning package delivery schedules.

The senior captain’s e-mail provides evidence that people are not a sound judge of their fatigue – a point made by many sleep researchers. The sleep science community argues that shift workers should be assigned schedules that avoid the effects of fatigue, as people are poor judges of their own impairment.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has unsuccessfully wrestled with the problem of pilot fatigue. In May 1988 the FAA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposed new regulations to combat pilot fatigue. The NPRM was a response to a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) “Most Wanted” recommendation to update the rules for scheduling based on the science of fatigue research. Over 310 pages of solicited comments were received to the NPRM, but the FAA was unable to reconcile differing views and withdrew the NPRM in November 2009. There has been no regulatory action since, and the NTSB has characterized the FAA response as “unacceptable.” Relatives of the victims of the last fatal US airliner crash in Buffalo NY are anticipating that sweeping new laws just won’t make it past both Houses. Many Congressmen are concerned about the economic effect such grass-roots change would have upon the airlines and so the lobbying for the status quo ante is intense. The impact of preventing pilots from commuting long distances by air and road to fly their flights would hamstring airline schedulers. It’s presently manageable, even when weather intervenes. Throwing another manning spanner in the works would guarantee crewing mayhem both in the short and medium term. As is often the case, one fix can beget another rupture elsewhere. Even the majority of pilots can themselves argue for a “let sleeping dogs lie” solution. The extent of the lawmaker’s thorny problem can be seen indepth at Pilot fatigue bill stalls in Congress

The JQ Senior Pilot’s email merely encapsulates a similar dilemma. Pilots must play ball or face undefined career consequences for being disruptive. Suppression of fatigue via the fear factor is no solution. But bursting into e-print on the subject is also no doubt destined to distort one’s career path. Fatigue remains the great unspoken. Better that one should claim to be “tired and emotional” (a popular euphemism for hung-over). At least Senior Pilots will appreciate that you didn’t want to run the risk of getting breathalysed planeside - and will endorse your staying away as a wise decision. However just being “tired” is apparently no excuse…. and evinces a certain shameful lack of stamina (and a deficiency of the “right stuff”).

Below, the “toughen up” e-mail in all its colorful glory:

[Flight schedule from Denpasar, Singapore, Perth, Melbourne and back to Perth]

Sent: Friday, January 7, 2011, 1:15 AM

This e-mail comes with a warning! If you are easily offended then delete this e-mail and read no further.

Toughen up princesses!

You aren’t fatigued, you are tired and can’t be bothered going to work.

The hardest thing about doing [flight] JQ117 backed up by the BOC [back of the clock, e.g. from midnight to 6 a.m.] is the time away from the family. There is ample time for rest if you utilize it correctly. I understand this is easy to say but sacrifices have to be made. We are all shift workers and that doesn’t always fit in with normal life. If you became an airline pilot thinking that you will be home every night and not have to fly through the night, then that is pretty naive. Might be time to go instructing.

I agree that the current BOC is a horror shift, but let’s look at the big picture. JQ [JetStar] now has about 50 odd airplanes. Airplanes don’t make money sitting on the tarmac, they need to keep flying. I have no idea how it works obtaining [airport] slots but I’m sure JQ can’t just have flights going to where they want, when they want. There must only be certain slots available which scheduling must then somehow work out how to fill. This current BOC is a combination of 2 MEL shifts which we have been given to fill a gap until further international routes, or domestic, become available. There is a high probability that we will only be doing this shift until mid year (fingers crossed!).

Now the powers to that be could have used this as a perfect opportunity to down-size the base, or even close it. But it shows that JQ is committed to the base and want it to work. Having said that, if I was Bruce and a bunch of pilots, who have taken a lot of days off, only fly 60-75 hours a month, started to call in ‘fatigued’ and didn’t want those days to come out of personal leave days, then I would start to look at other options. If flights started to be cancelled, then I would not hesitate in closing the base and have all flying done from MEL. Be careful of what you wish for!

In the last 4 weeks I have done 7 BOCs, 2 lots of back to back and one after JG117. I personally found the back to back the hardest and after JQ117 no dramas. By trial and error, I have worked out what works for me so I can manage the shift. I can say I hate the shift and I definitely don’t operate to my normal standard. I am tired throughout the shift, feel terrible, but would not call it fatigued.

All I ask is that you give the BOC flying a go and do everything that you can to make sure you are rested before the duty. If you honestly believe you can’t operate safely, not just because you feel terrible, then call in UFD [unfit for duty]. But it is UNFIT FOR DUTY! I can’t see how it can not be taken from your personal leave. I don’t see how it can be right that if you couldn’t get enough rest, for whatever reason, call in UFD then get a free day off. In the mean time I get called in off a standby. If I then refuse the duty I will be in all sorts of trouble. JQ rosters the required rest, you must use it but if still unfit for duty, then you are unfit for duty which needs to come out of your sick leave.

We have it pretty easy over here. Try Darwin for a while with 4 BOCs in a row, or MEL with 4 earlies followed by a late and while doing 100 hours. Then tell me how hard it is to do JQ117 followed by the BOC. I will warn you again, don’t be surprised to see more pairings of double BOCs! Again, be careful of what you wish for.

By the way, to steal a line from a classic [movie, Top Gun],

“I’ve been holding on too tight.” I have thrown in my Base Pilot wings, effective from Feb. I tell you now because I don’t want you to think I’m running from all the flak I’m about to receive. Give me your best shot!

I have written this not from a Base Pilot role, but from a pilot who hasn’t lost touch with reality and who wants this Perth base to work.

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Old 7th Apr 2011, 12:02
  #914 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
This is your captain sleeping: How exhausted pilots snooze at the controls (and two o

This is your captain sleeping: How exhausted pilots snooze at the controls (and two of them even had a nap at the same time)

By Ray Massey
Last updated at 11:52 AM on 7th April 2011

Pilots are falling asleep in the cockpits of UK passenger jets, a report suggests.
Nearly half of easyJet pilots surveyed said they were suffering from significant fatigue and a fifth reported that their abilities were compromised in flight more than once a week.
Alarmingly, two pilots on the same British-registered plane admitted falling asleep at the same time – risking a mid-air collision.

Falling asleep on the job: The study showed one in five pilots felt fatigued, though the union says the problem is 'systemic' across the aviation industry

The study, published today, was commissioned by the British pilots’ union, Balpa, and carried out by University College London.
One pilot, who works for a large UK airline but did not want to be named, said that about three months ago, both he and his co-pilot had very little sleep during their rest period.


On the subsequent flight, his co-pilot asked if he could take a nap, which the pilot approved. But then the pilot fell also asleep for about ten minutes.
The study of 492 pilots showing one in five felt fatigued at least once a week was carried out among easyJet pilots, though the union says the problem is ‘systemic’ across the aviation industry.

Damning: easyJet pilots were quizzed in the study, which was commissioned by the British pilots' union, Balpa

The example in which two pilots fell asleep together in the cockpit involved another airline.
Speaking to the BBC, the pilot said his co-pilot had legitimately requested a ‘power nap’.
Neither had slept during their rest period because of shift patterns. The pilot said: ‘About 10 or 15 minutes into that “power nap” I got to the point where I could not keep my eyes open any more. I convinced myself it would be fine if I just shut my eyes for a couple of seconds.
‘I woke up with a start maybe five or ten minutes later. And the aircraft had been flying itself for that time.
‘The first thing you do obviously is to check your height and your speeds and all of your instrumentation, and hopefully everything has performed normally while you’ve been asleep – while both of you have been asleep.’
He said: ‘When I woke up, it was a big adrenaline rush.
‘The worst scenario is that the autopilot would disconnect itself and then the aircraft would lose or gain height and that would be extremely dangerous as you’d go into the path of oncoming aircraft.
‘Now there are warning systems that tell you you are deviating from the correct altitude but they are not excessively loud – it would be easy enough to sleep through that, and I probably don’t need to tell you what the consequences of that are.’
Balpa is worried the situation will get worse under European proposals that would see the maximum flying time for UK pilots going up from 900 hours in a 12-month period to 1,000.
But European authorities claim the proposed changes will not lead to a reduction in safety.
EasyJet said last night that it did not recognise the union’s findings and insisted it complied fully with all safety regulations.
Old 7th Apr 2011, 12:10
  #915 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Sydney Australia
Posts: 2,091
I guess there's at least 2 interpretations to this Base manager's email.

1/ That of intimidation in an effort to strongarm the rank and file into toeing the company line.

2/ The desire to protect his, and if you are to believe the inferrance, the Perth base itself.

Personally, I feel he is leaning towards point 2.

Whatever their personal reasons may be, I can't help but wonder where Jetstar pilots think they are heading? I know it's tough moving base, and we all know the realities of airline flying can differ wildly from what people generally think. I have let opportunities pass, mainly because I was unwilling to uproot my family, and I have no regrets. But when a pilot advocates a pattern of work that has drawn complaint due to it's fatigueing nature, and by his own admission is hatefull and tiring, all because the alternatives are viewed as worse, then what the hell have we come to?

Onya Jetstar!

Onya Boys!
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 12:44
  #916 (permalink)  
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1 in 5 pilots are fatigued? A lot more than that......

Airlines don't care though, as long as it is legal. Some of the shit they roster here shouldn't be legal....
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 20:42
  #917 (permalink)  
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It will take at least Three heavy jet crashes to change the system.

The first will be put down to happenstance - Australia has had a good safety record, but statistically we cannot completely avoid the possibility that........... In other words; accidents happen.

CASA and ATSB will make suitable noises.

The second crash will be put down to coincidence - a statistical blip.

Questions will however be asked, and it is possible a Royal Commission will get up, but One headed by a "Tame" commissioner to keep the government and CASA safe.

The Third crash will arouse the public and will result in a full blooded Royal Commission, at which point it might be possible to effect change in the regulatory climate and regulatory structure that allowed such accidents to occur.

All allegations made against CASA will be met with calls for "natural justice" and "procedural fairness" to be afforded all CASA staff under scrutiny, irrespective of the fact that these same courtesies have allegedly never been granted by CASA to industry participants in the past.
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 23:07
  #918 (permalink)  
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with ya sunfish

Sunfish is on the ball in my view. No real vision in CASA that I can see...

CASAweary IMHO you speak the truth, and it sounds like you have inside info well beyond mine. The issue for me has always been a complete lack of national standardisation for the application of Regs, CAO's etc. Its always (IME) been a case of local opinion being enforced (or bullied) as "regulation".

If an AWI, ATI or FOI takes a dislike to you or your organisation they can simply make up any BS they feel like (often its just whatever their last employer did) as a "requirement" using the pitifully vague and open Ozzie aviation reg system as justification. Unless the AOC holder has the $$ and balls to take them on in court they have no choice but to do whatever the ego of that CASA staff member demands. Good job that in WA some operators are doing just that. In my view CASA has operated like a rogue agency, and its about time they got taught a lesson...

In the recent past that wasn't so bad as under Bruce Byron CASA's job was to consult and assist / guide operators, so together the industry got the job done in a positive way. But now, under what others have described to me as the abusive egomaniac now running the show it seems to be more like "attack the industry", whether the CASA staff members views are correct or not. Maybe simply to show Zeno and co that CASA is actually doing "something", even if the "something" is way off base...

I pity the poor FOI's and AWI's given that "fun" job now. If I was them I'd get all my assetts out of my name ASAP, as I have a feeling industry is about to strike back. CASA staff who exceed their powers, etc will have no legal protection from their employer...

Under the FAA (or the similar kiwi system) there is a logical framework of rules, supported by detailed AC's. That way the law is the law and any FOI/AWI who tries going beyond them can be bollocked. Its not totally prescriptive, there is room to make up your own methods of compliance.

I am amazed at how long the process of regulatory reform is taking here. Guess its great for CASA's legal team. There jobs will last for ever at this rate... Another poster suggested sacking all of CASA and adopting the well developed NZ rule system, then getting CASA staff to reapply for their jobs under a new regulatory framework. Sad to to say but maybe theres some wisdom in that idea. How about some pollies show some balls and do just that?

Maybe when Zeno is finished with his current rave he can get into CASA? In my view they need it. IMHO they are a big part of our industry problems...
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Old 7th Apr 2011, 23:16
  #919 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2011
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In case you missed it...

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Old 7th Apr 2011, 23:35
  #920 (permalink)  
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Mooore I hear you say..


Pilots on Food Stamps |

By Michael Moore

This week, the new 'Mike & Friends Blog' section will be added to In additional to my blog, I have asked a few people, like Rep. Marcy Kaptur (the Democrat from Toledo who has deservedly become the star of my movie!) and Leah Fried (who helped organize the sit-down strike at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago), to blog here on my site. Here's a sneak peek of my first blog post. Enjoy! -- MM

We're on the descent from 20,000 feet in the air when the flight attendant leans over the elderly woman next to me and taps me on the shoulder.

"I'm listening to Lady Gaga," I say as I remove just one of the ear buds. I know not this Lady Gaga, but her performance last week on SNL was fascinating.

"The pilots would like to see you in the cockpit when we land," she says with a southern drawl.

"Did I do something wrong?"

"No. They have something to show you." (The last time an employee of an airline wanted to show me something it was her written reprimand for eating an in-flight meal without paying for it. "Yes," she said, "we have to pay for our own meals on board now.")

The plane landed and I stepped into the cockpit. "Read this," the first officer said. He handed me a letter from the airline to him. It was headlined "LETTER OF CONCERN." It seems this poor fellow had taken three sick days in the past year. The letter was a warning not to take another one -- or else.

"Great," I said. "Just what I want -- you coming to work sick, flying me up in the air and asking to borrow the barf bag from my seatback pocket."

He then showed me his pay stub. He took home $405 this week. My life was completely and totally in his hands for the past hour and he's paid less than the kid who delivers my pizza.

I told the guys that I have a whole section in my new movie about how pilots are treated (using pilots as only one example of how people's wages have been slashed and the middle class decimated). In the movie I interview a pilot for a major airline who made $17,000 last year. For four months he was eligible -- and received -- food stamps. Another pilot in the film has a second job as a dog walker.

"I have a second job!," the two pilots said in unison. One is a substitute teacher. The other works in a coffee shop. You know, maybe it's just me, but the two occupations whose workers shouldn't be humpin' a second job are brain surgeons and airline pilots. Call me crazy.

I told them about how Capt. "Sully" Sullenberger (the pilot who safely landed the jet in the Hudson River) had testified in Congress that no pilot he knows wants any of their children to become a pilot. Pilots, he said, are completely demoralized. He spoke of how his pay has been cut 40% and his own pension eliminated. Most of the TV news didn't cover his remarks and the congressmen quickly forgot them. They just wanted him to play the role of "HERO," but he was on a more important mission. He's in my movie.

"I hadn't heard anywhere that this stuff about the airlines is in this new movie," the pilot said.

"No, you wouldn't," I replied. "The press likes to talk about me, not the movie."

And it's true. I've been surprised (and slightly annoyed) that, with all that's been written and talked about "Capitalism: A Love Story," very little attention has been paid the mind-blowing stuff in the film: pilots on food stamps, companies secretly taking out life insurance policies on employees and hoping they die young so the company can collect, judges getting kickbacks from the private prison industry for sending innocent people (kids) to be locked up. The profit motive -- it's a killer.

Especially when your pilot started his day at 6am working at the local Starbucks.
This is where we're heading:



Watch The Full Program | Flying Cheap | FRONTLINE | PBS

One for the Engineers and the next Inquiry: Flying Cheaper - Video | FRONTLINE | PBS



Last edited by Mr. Hat; 8th Apr 2011 at 06:13.
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