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Senate Inquiry, Hearing Program 4th Nov 2011

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Senate Inquiry, Hearing Program 4th Nov 2011

Old 1st Jan 2013, 12:07
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 02:18
  #922 (permalink)  
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Beaker's new paradigm for the ATSB

Someone on here suggested I should post this on this thread as it has relevancy with the now infamous Norfolk CSI, so here it is:
Jinglie said: Why on earth is the ATSB drifting off from the rest of the world? Imagine if there was ever a large fatal here (touch wood), these clowns wouldn't have a clue.
Why indeed?
flying-spike said: What I got from the report done for the ATSB was that it was based on available research into SMSs and that the majority of the research done on OH&S systems with very little done on low probability/high consequence industries such as aviation. I would put about as much value on that report as I would put on the ATSB report into the Norfolk Island ditching.....bugger all.
Spike I would add that the Norfolk final report isn’t a one off aberration in the Beakerised recent years, it is just the one accident that caught mainstream media attention and hence public interest. Which, due to the pilot surviving, created an awkward situation for the relevant authorities that they couldn’t automatically default to the normal line of defence..“nothing to see here it was all the pilot’s fault!”

Hence the ATSB final report fell under public scrutiny, 4 corners got hold of it and the good Senator X (Saint Nick) and Senator Fawcett ultimately pushed for a ‘please explain’ which has led to where we are now.

If you refer to Attachment B of ATSB supplementary submission 2[1] headed ‘Managing safety issues and actions’ you will see get an insight into Beaker’s grand vision for the future.
Senate Committees – Parliament of Australia
In summary this is where the Beaker defends his new methodology into the management of safety issues and actions picked up in the course of an ATSB transport safety accident/incident investigation. The questions that need to be asked, is it working? Does it promote the dissemination and free flow of safety critical information to industry participant’s worldwide?

Attachment B paragraph 4 reads:
The ATSB is in the process of redeveloping its website to be 'safety issue' focused rather than 'recommendation' focussed. The point of importance is that the safety issue remains open (like a recommendation) until such time as it is either adequately addressed, or it is clear that the responsible organisation does not intend taking any action (and has provided its reasons). In the event that no, or limited, safety actions are taken or proposed, the ATSB has the option to issue a formal safety recommendation
Here’s a short exercise that perhaps highlights the deficiencies and flaws in the Beaker vision of managing safety issues and actions. The following are extracts from the changed (Beakerised) Safety Issues and Actions ATSB database for all sections of the ATSB remit i.e. not just Aviation:

Safety issues and actions

We then put in 'critical' in the 'original risk' section.

Safety issues and actions

You’ll see that it comes up with one entry only, which is probably because this is the new Beaker method of recording safety actions and recommendations and therefore the system is yet to ‘catch up’ with the new methodology.

Ok for sh*ts and giggles lets open up the one entry that deals with those RR engines mounted on the A380:

Recommendation AO-2010-089-SR-012

So this SR was generated because of the uncontained engine explosion on the Qantas A380 VH-OQA out of Singapore in 2010. However what this one example shows is that normally a ‘critical safety issue’, like most of the world, should automatically generate a Safety Recommendation.

Now we’ll go to the next level down i.e. ‘Significant safety issues’:

Safety issues and actions

We now have a total of 11 entries depicted and of those 2 are SRs. One Marine SR that occurred on 30 July 2012 and one Aviation SR that occurred on 13 December 2010, which deals with a standby power deficiency in the B747-400 QRH.

Although the new methodology means there aren’t many entries so far it is still possible to see that even a significant safety issue can lead to the ATSB generating a SR. It is also interesting to note that all 11 entries are listed under the “Type:” column as either recommendations or ‘safety advisory notices’ and that significant safety issues (at least) are now starting to be listed, example: AO-2009-012-SI-001. So I wonder if the same thing is happening for minor safety issues?

Safety issues and actions

And that would be a yes! Ok so is the Pel-Air ‘critical safety issue,’ that has only recently been downgraded to ‘minor’, in there?..Err it would appear not, nor is any of the other ‘minor’ safety issues published in the Pel-Air final report! So although under the Beaker system all safety issues will now be supposedly published in the ATSB database, the Pel-Air (and god knows how many others) minor safety issues are yet to be included….just another cloak of invisibility!

Such a convoluted system! Too bad if you are operating in a remote base with dodgy internet coverage and you don’t know where to look on the ATSB site for that significant safety issue that happens to be relevant to the aircraft you’re operating…I mean WTF??

The biggest issue from this Beakerised system in regards to the ATSB investigation into the Norfolk ditching is perhaps best highlighted by this quote from the ‘Safety Action’ section of the preliminary report issued 13 January 2010:

The remainder of the investigation is likely to take some months. However, should any critical safety issues emerge that require urgent attention, the ATSB will immediately bring such issues to the attention of the relevant authorities who are best placed to take prompt action to address those issues.
This was prior to the ATSB bringing to the attention their now infamous CSI to the regulator. Under the old system that CSI would have automatically triggered a SR that would have had to be addressed in a timely matter as per the TSI Act. Instead we ended up with the ridiculous situation where a CSI that was well supported by an excellent documented investigative review by the ATSB investigation team, gets left in limbo for over 29 months before finally being downgraded to a minor safety issue!

Perhaps this farce is best summed up by Jinglie’s last:

Wait till the FAA come back and speak to Beaker! We are doomed!
Link to post on Norfolk thread

Here's some more unexplained discrepancies with the new Beakerised 'safety issues and actions' database....

The final paragraphs of ‘Attachment B’ read:
The ATSB's Annual Plan and part of the ATSB's Key Performance Indicators
specifically relate to a measurement of safety action taken in response to safety issues; in the case of 'critical' safety issues, the target is for safety action to be taken by stakeholders 1 00% of the time, while for 'significant' safety issues, the target is 70%.

For the FY11 /12, there were no identified critical safety issues and 28 significant safety issues. In response to the significant safety issues, adequate safety action was taken in 89% of cases and a further 4% were assessed as partially addressed.
Besides the fact that there is a degree of obfuscation in trying to state that 28 significant safety issues can possibly provide an accurate, statistical cross section of safety issues acquitted/actioned, there also appears to be a skewing of the total safety issues as I only get 10 entries for FY 11/12, see here:

Safety issues and actions

Perhaps this discrepancy is best explained by this further quote from Attachment B:
The ATSB's Safety Investigation Information Management System (SlIMS) provides tools for investigators to record and track safety issues and actions, including through the setting up of alerts to prompt periodic follow-up of progress with safety action where a safety issue is open and the safety actions are being monitored (the same process applies if a recommendation were issued).
So maybe the other 18 significant safety issues are buried (or totally invisible) in the ATSB SIIMS??

Note: As a comparison for FY 07/08 (before Beakerisation) there was 145 safety issue entries, of which there were 97 formal safety recommendations:
Safety issues and actions

Still all very convoluted and definitely not very user friendly...bit like the 'Flight Safety Mag' no longer being sent out in hard copy. How many people are actually going to bother going to this amount of trouble to source possible relevant 'safety issues'?? Even if you do you still can't be assured that certain safety issues have been captured or discretely omitted on the database!
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 21:17
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I'm afraid I know where all this ends: The ATSB slides into complete irrelevency and operators take their cues from overseas regulators.

If you keep producing garbage, no one will take any notice of it because they can't learn anything of value from it.

When, not if, there is a major accident with great loss of life, there are Five certainties:

(1) The ATSB will conceal evidence and cover its backside.

(2) CASA will cover its backside, most probably by blaming the pilot.

(3) Air Services will cover its backside,

(4) Any airport and airline involved will cover their backside.

(5) Everything possible will be done by the Minister and his Department to suppress honest reporting and conceal the truth from the Australian Public.

Last edited by Sunfish; 7th Jan 2013 at 21:24.
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Old 12th Jan 2013, 08:57
  #924 (permalink)  
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The Fairfax Factor!

Interesting article from Ben today, perhaps explains why there has been little coverage from Fairfax media on any significant Oz aviation safety issues like the Pel-Air inquiry or the ASA series of BOS events. Not that News Limited is much better!!

Q/ Does the Fairfax group even have a reputable investigative journo on their books anymore? Oh well Fairfax will continue to fade into obscurity...let's just hope the Senators keep turning over those stones...
Qantas safety ‘list’ story is also about Fairfax’s decline

Ben Sandilands | Jan 12, 2013 3:41PM | EMAIL | PRINT

If Fairfax is prepared to give top of site billing to the rankings done by the tiny Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre based in Hamburg without telling its readers exactly how Finnair ended up on top, and Virgin trumped Qantas, and so forth, it is making itself a party to something very odd to say the least.

Fairfax media is currently leading its online advertorial, lifestyle, spruiking, and supposed news and analysis sites with a story about how Qantas has been bumped down a list of world’s safest airlines.

List stories are in general a nonsense, and seldom tolerated by serious news organisations without a detailed investigation of the methodologies, qualifications and financial affairs of those claiming to be able to make a list of safest airlines, or best lounges, or top resorts, or whatever brain dead nonsense a so called news organisation wants to serve up.

In this case Fairfax is publicising a small German group which has declared in a listing based on parameters not fully disclosed on its website that the world’s safest airline is Finnair, and that Air New Zealand, is the world’s second safest carrier, and Virgin Australia, is ninth, and that Qantas is 13th. It sees this as a ‘downgrade’ of Qantas safety. Seriously? There is much to report, analyse and discuss in matters Qantas, but according a supposedly enthusiast but pay-for-use site in Germany with the credibility to ‘downgrade’ Qantas is absurd.

This is the same Fairfax that has invested scarcely any time even reporting the privileged disclosures of grave safety deficiencies in CASA, the ATSB, Airservices Australia, and in the operations of Jetstar and Pel-Air, even though they have been served up on a plate in Senate committee hearings and protected air safety investigation reports for several years.

It is a Fairfax with some excellent reporters that nevertheless appears to be managerially totally gutless and unfocused when it comes to directing resources into real coverage of seriously relevant matters for its readerships even when they are begging for attention.

But list stories, especially those with PR involvement, are pushed out, even when they are manifestly unsatisfactory in terms of lack of details or have credibility red flags fluttering all over them.

There is no question, on the publicly available safety data, that all of the top 13 carriers in the list have good safety records today. But the rankings are strange.

If Fairfax is prepared to give top of site billing to the rankings done by the tiny Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre based in Hamburg without telling its readers exactly how Finnair ended up on top, and Virgin trumped Qantas, and so forth, it is making itself a party to something very odd to say the least.

The courageous and truthful way of dealing with air safety matters that relate directly to Australian carriers and those foreign carriers that Australians most often fly on based on BITRE statistics would be to review the safety literature comprising accident and incident investigations and the evidence and submissions provided to parliamentary committees, including the unfinished business of the Pel-Air report issued by the ATSB last August which is the subject of a Senate inquiry.

Why are serious incidents being kept from clear public view in this country? Why didn’t CASA act against Pel-Air when it found it in serious breach of its safety obligations at the time of the air ambulance ditching near Norfolk Island in 2009?

Why did CASA ground a Singapore owned airline Tiger Airways for safety breaches yet take no action against the AOC of Jetstar when two pilots who couldn’t even speak to each other in the cockpit did nothing to correct the trajectory of an A321 flying toward a landing at Singapore Airport when the captain was so focused on his mobile phone that the first officer had to disregard his last minute instructions to land the flight on his own and instead initiated a go-around when it was around 400 feet above the ground and improperly configured for a touchdown?

Why is Fairfax running trivial and absurd list stories when the public administration of air safety in this country has gone to hell in a hand cart without it paying the slightest attention?

Quite possibly because unless it comes neatly wrapped up in a press release it hasn’t the capability or will to go out and commit real journalism, hard, time consuming, and often costly journalism, that will produce stories readers will pay for.

Qantas safety list story also about Fairfax's decline | Plane Talking
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Old 15th Jan 2013, 08:28
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From Plane Talking:
In some ways the NTSB relationship to the FAA resembles the way the ATSB used to be a fiercely independent body in relation to CASA until it suited government to neuter it with a pact under which it can no longer embarrass our Civil Aviation Safety Authority or confront Ministers with unpalatable realities about the misdeeds of vested interests in air services in Australia.

(An unfinished Senate committee inquiry into the final report the ATSB released into the Pel-Air ditching at Norfolk Island in 2009 has taken evidence as to how CASA persuaded the ATSB to completely change its mind about the safety issues in the crash, and to state that a suppressed CASA audit that found Pel-Air in serious breach of numerous safety obligations relevant to the incident had no bearing on the accident. Stay tuned.)
Burned 787 battery underlines seriousness of incident | Plane Talking
As Ben Sandilands aptly points out there is perhaps no better example of how much the ATSB has been nobbled in recent years (the Beaker years) by Fort Fumble exploiting the 2010 MOU and the recommendations/findings of the Miller review. Just compare the handling by the NTSB Boeing 787 Japan Airlines onboard fire at Logan Airport Boston to that of the Pel-Air Norfolk Island ditching.

Here was the first NTSB press release upon being notified:
NTSB investigators looking into Boeing 787 smoke event in Boston

January 07
WASHINGTON - Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are gathering information regarding reports of smoke aboard a Boeing 787 at Boston's Logan Airport today. The Japan Airlines 787 was on the ground and empty of passengers at the time of the incident. The NTSB has dispatched an investigator to Boston. Based on a review of the factual information gathered, the NTSB will determine the extent of its investigation.
Here was the second:
NTSB provides investigative update on Boeing 787 fire incident in Boston

January 08

WASHINGTON - The National Transportation Safety Board today released an update on its formal investigation of Monday's fire aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston. There were no passengers or crew on board at the time. One firefighter received minor injuries.

In addition to an investigator already on scene who visually inspected the airplane last night, the NTSB has sent two additional investigators to Boston and formed investigative groups to look at airworthiness and fire and airport emergency response. Senior Air Safety Investigator David Helson has been designated as the investigator-in-charge.
Parties to the investigation are the Federal Aviation Administration and The Boeing Company. In addition, the Japan Transport Safety Board has appointed an accredited representative and Japan Airlines will assist the JTSB as technical advisors.

Initial investigative findings include:
· The NTSB investigator on scene found that the auxiliary power unit battery had severe fire damage. Thermal damage to the surrounding structure and components is confined to the area immediately near the APU battery rack (within about 20 inches) in the aft electronics bay.
· Preliminary reports from Japan Airlines representatives indicate that airplane maintenance and cleaning personnel were on the airplane with the APU in operation just prior to the detection of smoke in the cabin and that Boston Logan Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting were contacted.
· Rescue and fire personnel and equipment responded to the airplane and detected a fire in the electronics and equipment bay near the APU battery box. Initial reports indicate that the fire was extinguished about 40 minutes after arrival of the first rescue and fire personnel. One firefighter received minor injuries.
In between we had the FAA announcing a review of the 787 certification and proving process that the FAA had conducted on the 787, which was followed by a joint FAA and Boeing media statement about how outstandingly safe the 787 is.

But the NTSB weren’t going to swallow any of that baloney and put out this further secondary investigative update:
NTSB Provides Second Investigative Update on Boeing 787 Battery Fire in Boston

January 14

WASHINGTON - The National Transportation Safety Board today released a second update on its investigation into the Jan. 7 fire aboard a Japan Airlines Boeing 787 at Logan International Airport in Boston.

The lithium-ion battery that powered the auxiliary power unit on the airplane was removed and transported back to the NTSB Materials Laboratory in Washington on Jan. 10. The battery is currently being examined by NTSB investigators, who plan to disassemble it this week.
In advance of that work, under the direction of the NTSB, radiographic examinations of the incident battery and an exemplar battery were conducted this past weekend at an independent test facility. The digital radiographs and computed tomography scans generated from this examination allowed the team to document the internal condition of the battery prior to disassembling it.

In addition, investigators took possession of burned wire bundles, the APU battery charger, and several memory modules. The maintenance and APU controller memory modules will be downloaded to obtain any available data. Investigators also documented the entire aft electronics bay including the APU battery and the nearby affected structure where components and wire bundles were located. The airplane was released back to Japan Airlines on Jan. 10.

The airplane's two combined flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder units were transported to NTSB headquarters and have been successfully downloaded. The information is currently being analyzed by the investigative team.

The airport emergency response group documented the airport rescue and firefighting efforts to extinguish the fire, which included interviews with first responders. Fire and rescue personnel were able to contain the fire using a clean agent (Halotron), however, they reported experiencing difficulty accessing the battery for removal during extinguishing efforts. All fire and rescue personnel responding to the incident had previously received aircraft familiarization training on the Boeing 787. In accordance with international investigative treaties, the Japan Transport Safety Board and French Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses pour la sécurité de l'aviation civile have appointed accredited representatives to the investigation. The NTSB-led investigative team is comprised of subject matter groups in the areas of airplane systems, fire, airport emergency response, and data recorders and includes experts from the Federal Aviation Administration, The Boeing Company, US Naval Surface Warfare Center's Carderock Division, Japan Airlines (aircraft operator), GS Yuasa (battery manufacturer), and Thales Avionics Electrical Systems (APU battery/charger system).

Further investigative updates will be issued as events warrant. To be alerted to any updates or developments, please follow the NTSB on Twitter at twitter.com/ntsb.
Press Release January 14, 2013

It could be argued that our safety watchdog would have handled this incident in much the same way but given the handling of the Pel-Air Norfolk ditching investigation, the CSI and subsequent Final Report I’d say there would be no guarantee that the ATSB wouldn’t have been swayed by the regulator’s rhetoric and proposed safety actions.

It will be interesting to see the NTSB safety recommendations generated from this incident and I bet it won’t take them over 32 months to produce a Final Report.

Last edited by Sarcs; 15th Jan 2013 at 08:39.
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Old 19th Jan 2013, 00:28
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Suitably fortified with a large slice of Christmas pudding and a bottle of Ireland's finest I had another look at the fuel issues which have caused much throwing of toys and squabbles within the rank and file. First thought was of the Caribbean incident and the NTSB approach – the aircraft had a 4.5 hour supply of fuel on board, which was exhausted after 4.6 hours – "furry muff" sayest the guru's of NTSB; "now lets find out why". Not so with the Norfolk night swimming championships.

I must say the Davies fuel burn effort was at least logical, believable and nicely done; but as for the rest, well. But, that said I wondered why the fuel squabble generated so many pages of assumptions and rhetoric. All the questions and guess work could have been avoided had the actual OBR data from the flight and previous flights been examined to accurately determine the fuel status of the aircraft. There are now three "expert" fuel burn analysis (by assumption) on record and not a shred of hard data for any, not even an analysis of the grid winds and temperature for the day offered in support.

This of course lead to other questions like: why is there no company or pilot supplied version in defence?; and why was the On Board Recording device (OBR) not recovered?

So, to a reading session; the TSI Act 2003 (Part 6 :48-58) and the Civil Aviation Act 1988 (section 32 AO-AU). Note that CASA "intended" (bluffing) a prosecution and from the 1988 Act you can see that only the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) is of interest, strictly in a prosecution only sense, not the rest of the On Board Recording devices (OBR). The TSI includes the lot.

I still wonder why the "Black box" was not recovered, the combined unit would have provided an independent eye witness to the events. We are obliged by law to install and keep serviceable the "boxes": not recovering the thing makes it pointless to do so. The report is happy with 'edited' transcript and 'expert' opinion. I guess expecting the facts and evidence to support assumption are not required in the modern era of investigations. CASA and the ATSB have dreamed up some bull about there being 'enough' evidence without the CVR/FDR; and yet questions are stll being asked against spin, speculation and assumption.

We have three independent witnesses to the event ignored, unheard and buried under a mountain of paperwork; the CVR, the FDR and the co pilot. It would be a brave judge who made a ruling without hearing all the witnesses.

Last edited by Kharon; 19th Jan 2013 at 00:37. Reason: Come home Gobbles - all should be forgiven.
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Old 20th Jan 2013, 06:16
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Top post "K"!

Interesting post “K” and highlights yet another unexplained and unresolved, tainted area within the remit of the Pel-Air enquiry that hopefully hasn’t got past the attention of the good Senators.

A quick Sunday afternoon google search for unrecovered blackboxes turns up a list total of twelve (I guess soon to be 13) from 1965. Some of those cases it wasn’t from a lack of trying to retrieve them. And sometimes they were totally or partially destroyed or lost.

The irony of the Pel-Air Norfolk ditching is that if the crew and pax had of perished then the bureau and FF would have been obligated to recover the blackbox!

Besides being a rather embarrassing retraction by the DAS and points to the question whether the DAS is indeed the puppetmaster or the puppet, the following is interesting in the context of the unrecovered blackbox:
At page 41 of the Hansard from Monday 22 October it was stated:

CHAIR: So your department had no part, no conversations, in the recovery of the black box?
Mr McCormick: No, Senator, we did not.
CHAIR: No input at all?
Mr McCormick: No, Senator.

I have since been advised that this statement is not correct. On 8 December 2009
the ATSB raised with CASA by email the possibility of contributing to a joint fund
sharing arrangement to recover the black box and was advised that CASA did not have the funds to contribute to that exercise. I was not aware of this email at the time of my advice to the Committee.

I apologise if my comments have been in any way misleading.
Besides the fact that the Hansard reference to which he refers is actually located on page 53 this revelation may call into question some of the issues that Kharon raises in post #961.
§ How can it be that FF doesn’t have the necessary funds and where’s the cost/benefit/analysis?
§ As “K” infers could it be that FF legal considered the CVR information could be detrimental to their case of trying (initially) to prosecute the pilot under S20A of the Act and given the protections section 32 AO-AU afford the flight crew?
§ Could it also be that FF were aware that had the blackbox been retrieved then the bureau would have full and privileged control over the CVR/FDR information as per the TSI Act?

The DAS revelation would have been a contributing factor to bean-counter Beaker’s ultimate decision not to recover the black box, which
he explained to the committee on page 67 of the Hansard:
Mr Dolan: At the initial stages, we understood the aircraft was in comparatively shallow water and that access to the recorders would be reasonably achievable by a diver or other mechanisms without too much difficulty. That brief was to convince me to make the necessary allocation of resources to retrieve the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder. Upon investigation, it became clear that the depth at which the aircraft was in the water, its location at a remote island, Norfolk Island, and the work health and safety standards applying to diving to those depths meant that there would have been a substantial cost of recovery.

The requirement was effectively that there be a decompression chamber, none of which was available on Norfolk Island, for the full time of the retrieval because of the depth at which the divers would be operating. When we got a reasonable and first approximation assessment of that, in the knowledge that, from our point of view, the key information we had about flight decision making would not have been recorded on the cockpit voice recorder which only had a two-hour time on it—

You got to say what a load of bollocks! And what about the FDR, surely the invaluable information that it holds over a 100hrs of ‘power on’ was worth the cost of retrieval alone??

Not sure about the FA2100 combined CVR/FDR but a lot of FDR’s these days have so many more flight system parameters measured/recorded.

Whose to say if fuel flows, fuel burn etc wasn’t recorded not to mention (as “K” said) actual winds aloft, ground speed etc..etc. Even PTT actuations, which could have possibly shown transmissions that weren’t received or recorded by ATC. The list isn’t endless but there is a 100hrs of possibly relevant information that is still sitting on the ocean floor.

Hopefully the good Senators are all over this because it certainly is an area that raises the stench of this whole Pel-Air debacle to an extreme level!
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Old 20th Jan 2013, 22:09
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Gotta love Google.

Sarcs #954 –"A quick Sunday afternoon Google search for unrecovered black-boxes turns up a list total of twelve (I guess soon to be 13) from 1965. Some of those cases it wasn’t from a lack of trying to retrieve them. And sometimes they were totally or partially destroyed or lost".
Good catch Sarcs, the rest of the world seems to be able to make an effort, mostly successful it seems to recover "hard" evidence. I couldn't find a copy of the ATSB policy or investigators manual, but the Canadians and the NTSB seem to have no problem making public theirs :-

NTSB Investigators Manual.

From page 156 (PDF) – there are guidelines for OBR which make no bones about how important the recovery of the CVR etc. is to their investigations, most refreshing attitude. Now I know the manual is 'dry' reading, but there is some really good stuff tucked away in the 'procedural' parts worth cherry picking, just for reference.

I also found this from an interview with NTSB 's James Cash:-

Would the thing even spit out anything useful after four months in salt water? While we can’t answer the first question, we talked to James Cash, chief of the vehicle recorders division at the National Transportation Safety Board, to get some answers to the latter two.

Cash also says it is absolutely possible that a plane’s black box would still be in working condition after four months on the ocean floor. The current record goes to a recorder that, after nine years at the bottom of the Mediterranean, was perfectly fine. “The water, in general, doesn’t hurt them at all,” Cash says. “It’s the air that hurts them once they’ve been wet. It starts the corrosion and rust process.”

Once the black box is found at a wreckage site, it’s transferred to the lab in a water-filled cooler so the data can be retrieved and copied right away. So although we know Widmore has the black box, we’re still not entirely sure he has a copy of the data that it recorded.

According to Cash, it only takes a few days before the leads on the SSD start to corrode. The exact time that needs to pass before the data’s not retrievable is unknown. “I would say a couple of days,” Cash says, agreeing that a month out of water is probably sufficient time to render the black box useless. “We try not to experiment with that so I don’t know if I have a good answer. But if you let it dry out for quite a period of time, it’s going to make [data] much more difficult to recover.”

Cash interview.
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Old 21st Jan 2013, 18:57
  #929 (permalink)  
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Is the co - pilot in a relationship with someone?
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Old 21st Jan 2013, 19:02
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The CVR data is still there - its encased in Stainless steel. The trouble is that the wreck may move. From memory, the depth (44m?) is just over the limit for sport (non decompression) diving, but it is an absolute doddle for a professional.

Last edited by Sunfish; 21st Jan 2013 at 19:04.
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Old 21st Jan 2013, 22:46
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When do the hearings restart?
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Old 22nd Jan 2013, 00:12
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Is the co - pilot in a relationship with someone?
A bit irrelevant Sunny.

Given the publicity surrounding this event and the poor standard of the report she probably doesn't want put herself in the firing line. If she contradicts the ATSB, CASA and the PIC then she is just going to bring a world of pain upon herself. If safety hasn't been enhanced by the publication of the report and the ATSB can't be bothered recovering the CVR/FDR then any public statements she makes is not going to make much of a difference. I think she is an F/O with Virgin so I don't blame her for just wanting to get on with her career without all the stress of going public.
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Old 22nd Jan 2013, 00:56
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Yes she should but I can understand why she hasn't. Remember the Senate hearing is into the investigation not the incident itself although the lines can be blurred. To suggest that she hasn't spoken publicly because she might be in a relationship (the relevance of which is beyond my comprehension) only serves to diminish Sunny's credibility not hers.
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Old 22nd Jan 2013, 02:44
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DCT given the reporting date is the 27th Feb I don’t believe there will be anymore public hearings, unless of course the committee seeks a further extension.

That said it is possible that the committee can request further witnesses to give evidence in a private (in camera) meeting, something that we won’t know about till after the event or when the Senate sits from the 5th Feb then any private meeting requests will be captured in the Senate Hansard.

Kharon good catch on the NTSB investigator’s manual, although very dry reading it is worth the time to read and there are some extremely relevant sections when comparing to the ATSB investigation process.

Trying to find the ATSB equivalent is a totally different matter, although it is listed here: Operational information
But it appears to be spread across multiple volumes and you also have to pay for the privilege to access, still the FF equivalent referred to several times in their Enforcement Manual as the ‘Investigators Manual’ is either a work of fiction or buried somewhere in Flying Fiend’s basement??

Anyway back to NTSB CVR/FDR and wreckage recovery priorities reference (‘Wreckage Recovery’ pg 57 and CVR/FDR pg 79, pg 155 onwards)….

As the NTSB investigator’s manual displays the retrieval, protection and analysis of the CVR/FDR is given maximum priority in the conduct of their investigation. I have no doubt the NTSB would have moved heaven and earth to retrieve the blackbox from VH-NGA and probably any other parts of the aircraft that they thought would be relevant to their investigation i.e. ‘no stone unturned’.

This extract from the NTSB manual is also of particular interest in regards to information that the FAA (not including the ATC section) are required to provide to the NTSB:
Federal Aviation Administration Information
(1) "Blue Ribbon" medical and pilot certificate records.
(2) Violation and other certificate actions on flightcrew and airline. Obtain certified
(3) Inspections performed on the airline during the previous 12 month period including base, ramp, en route, ground and flight training program, crew member; dispatcher records (including flight and rest), trip records, dispatch center/flight
following/flight/locating facility. Obtain certified copies.
(4) Latest regional inspection performed. Obtain a certified copy.
(5) Latest national inspection performed. Obtain a certified copy.
(6) Frequency of surveillance. Compare the number and types of inspections performed with regional and national inspections guidelines.
(7) Workload of POI.
(8) Background and qualifications of POI.
(9) Authorized and current staffing level of district office.
(10) Most recent pre-accident/incident flight inspection and post flight inspection results of pertinent en route and approach facilities/aids. Obtain certified copies.
(11) Most recent pre-accident/incident airways facility inspection and post inspection or pertinent en route and approach facilities/aids. Obtain certified copies

Talk about transparency and independent authority…begs the questions;

Q1/ If Fort Fumble were required to provide all of the above would we even be having this enquiry??
Q2/ If the ATSB had the same head of power as the NTSB and were operating to a similar investigator’s manual would the ATSB have produced such a flawed, defective ‘Final Report’ in the first place??

Certainly food for thought!

Sarcs is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2013, 04:06
  #935 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Stuck in the middle...
Posts: 1,637

Surely the RAN have divers who could easily go to 44m. Why not put it through the budget as a training exercise?
Taildragger67 is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2013, 05:51
  #936 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posts: 7,472
Blackhand and lefty, I made no assertion at all. You are the ones with the dirty minds.

Why has the co pilot not spoken? Perhaps because no one bothered to ask?. Or is there another reason? Would the co pilots evidence be relevant or not?
Sunfish is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2013, 06:32
  #937 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Gotta love FNQ
Posts: 86
I understand the co pilot spoke to everyone she was required to. This doesn't include 60 mins, 4 corners, PPRuNe or (much to his apparent disapproval) Sunfish
JetA_OK is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2013, 07:41
  #938 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 1999
Location: Australasia
Posts: 362
Devil In Camera

For Sarcs and all of the other dogs looking around and sniffing the ground, the truth is that you don't get to find out who gives evidence or what is said during "in camera" sessions if they choose not to give any public evidence. Part of the confidentiality is that no one other than the Committee and the Secretariat know what transpires. Parliamentary privilege is a very powerful thing and every person involved in such matters has a very clear understanding of that.

As for Sarcs' prediction: the Committee will not be put off by CASA being too busy to reappear last year. They can invite whoever they feel will add value to make an appearance - the witness decides on public/in camera. The reporting date will not be the controlling factor - a satisfactory explanation of the state of safety regulation will be the driver and I suspect the most unified of all RRAT Committee Inquiries of recent times will not be "whipped" into premature completion.

So what relevant questions do we want CASA to explain?

Stay Alive,
4dogs is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2013, 08:02
  #939 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Go west young man
Posts: 1,732
4dogs yep up with the Senate Committee processes and parliamentary privilege. Just making the point that if the Senate is sitting and the committee want to hold a private (in camera) or public meeting then they have to 'ask leave' to do so, therefore you can catch that request on Senate Hansard

Oh and you could be right the RRAT committee may require a further public hearing to question the DAS and various members of the GWM (FF), time will tell!
Sarcs is offline  
Old 22nd Jan 2013, 08:40
  #940 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Styx Houseboat Park.
Posts: 2,053
Just an aside -

I have often wondered why in Australia we do not use the "military" more on SAR than we do. I am sure our RAN would welcome the opportunity to plan and execute (budgetary constraints acknowledged) "as part of 'hands on' training an exercise" to retrieve whatever could be found at Norfolk Island. The guys would love it and it would beat swimming about in Darling Harbour "pretending"; hands down. The RAAF pilots could use their 'nav' time executing a SAR mission and gain real life experience, with a purpose; the Reserves could do ground search (having a ball – uniform and toys).

We have a very good, probably bored military (all codes) infrastructure, paid for and available to fight: why not 'real' NVG practice at low level – but to find a lost aircraft: or, go to sea to 'rescue' trapped submariners (read OBR), RAAF pilots out on SAR. Crazy idea I know, but I'd bet a six pack the troops would be up for it and the trainers glad of it. Why waste the best of the best in a swimming pool (semmantic).

Anyway - Nuff said – I know wind correction angle not equivalent to drift. But it's a point.
Kharon is offline  

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