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We must never become complacent – Dick Smith

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We must never become complacent – Dick Smith

Old 30th Oct 2018, 04:03
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We must never become complacent – Dick Smith

I find it fascinating that a number of people have contacted me to tell me how “safe” we are in Australia compared to countries such as Indonesia when it comes to airline flying.

Of course, the word “safe” means without risk and that unfortunately is not possible.

Both times that I have been Chairman of the regulator (CAA and then CASA) I would wake up every morning dreading that this could be the day when we have an airline accident.Yes, we have been very lucky and we do have very well qualified crew, and we can afford the best training and very often the most modern aircraft. However everything in life has risk and we must never become complacent.I know whenever I see or hear of an accident I try to find out how it occurred and always think “When will I do that?” or “When will it happen to me?”

Of course we have been incredibly fortunate. It was one of the Qantas pilots who mentioned to me years ago how fortunate we were that there was a golf course at the end of the runway at Bangkok and not a container terminal. Also, more recently, that the Airbus A380 incident at Singapore did not result in the fuel catching alight.

What I am saying in this post is never take for granted that we are perfectly “safe”. I sincerely hope, like everyone else, that we can go for as long as possible without a serious accident and a jet airline fatality.I think most would agree that the second you take it for granted that we are “safe” it could come back to bite you.
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 04:12
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Of course, the word “safe” means without risk and that unfortunately is not possible.
I agree with the sentiments of what you say wholeheartedly but we both know that "safe" does not mean without risk. Travelling to work by car carries risk but it is considered safe. Walking to work is safe but carries risk. Flight in a single engine aircraft at night is safe for a pilot to take friends flying but not "safe enough" to carry fare paying passengers.
When we say safe I believe me mean safe enough. Is tandem skydiving safe? Scuba diving?
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 04:17
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I think We’re always at risk with FRMS constantly being pushed back by CASA and them allowing our low cost carriers repeatly to get exemptions on the 900 hours/ year rule to let us fly up to 1000hrs. Fatigue and cost cutting is now the biggest risk of a major crash in Australia .... thoughts ?
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 04:29
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“Of course we have been incredibly fortunate. It was one of the Qantas pilots who mentioned to me years ago how fortunate we were that there was a golf course at the end of the runway at Bangkok and not a container terminal.”

Dick,
The person who made that statement is just as ridiculous as you are in believing it.
the aircraft came to a stop 220 m from the paved end of the runway. There plenty of gullies, creeks, roads, fences,depressions, valleys, ditches, oceans, harbours, rivers,etc about that far from the departure end of some runways but I don’t think there are too many stacks of containers or container terminals.
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 04:51
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I think the point the good Captain was making is that there was a golf course and not serious obstacles (insert obstacle of choice). One of the harbours you cite could very well be a container terminal. Nothing ridiculous about it IMHO.
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 04:56
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What complacency? When was the last time you sat in on matrix sim. session with one of our major carriers Dick? The "IAS Disagree Non-Normal",if that's what turns out to be the cause,is trained to competency in all major carriers in Australia.Have a chat to Trainers who have actually worked with our northern neighbors.You might get a reality check.They have a very real problem.Their hull-loss rate is off the scale.I personally have had several incidents in Indonesian airspace that made my hair stand on end.Comparing the Indonesian aviation environment with Australia's is simply ill-informed. Stick to GA Dick .And don't let your family fly domestically in Indonesia.
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 04:56
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Any idiot airline manager (executive) and quite a few come to mind, that thinks aviation is a game and 'just a business' should be mandated to walk through a debris field and pick up charred body parts.

For a company like (insert airline) although the ultimate arbiter of all financial decisions is the CEO, no AOC accountability exists at his level.
A useful idiot lower down the chain holds the can. CASA permit this.
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 05:23
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Originally Posted by megan View Post
I think the point the good Captain was making is that there was a golf course and not serious obstacles (insert obstacle of choice). One of the harbours you cite could very well be a container terminal. Nothing ridiculous about it IMHO.
If you take the time to read the official report, you’ll find that most of the aircraft damage was by the concrete foundations of the ILS antennae. ( a major hazard at any airport). WLG has a harbour and the container terminal is miles away. SYD has a bay and the container terminal is nowhere near the runways. Lots of pax have been injured or killed over the years past by aircraft that run off the runway into other things than container terminals.
At SYD to the north there is a stack of containers off the end of the runway. In the event of an overrun, an aircraft would have to plough through the ILS antennae, the approach lights, a perimeter road, the boundary fence, a four lane major road, the Cook’s river , and veer 45 degrees left to find the stack of containers.

Last edited by wombat watcher; 30th Oct 2018 at 09:00.
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 05:26
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What complacency? When was the last time you sat in on matrix sim. session with one of our major carriers Dick? The "IAS Disagree Non-Normal",if that's what turns out to be the cause,is trained to competency in all major carriers in Australia.Have a chat to Trainers who have actually worked with our northern neighbors.You might get a reality check.They have a very real problem.Their hull-loss rate is off the scale.I personally have had several incidents in Indonesian airspace that made my hair stand on end.Comparing the Indonesian aviation environment with Australia's is simply ill-informed. Stick to GA Dick .And don't let your family fly domestically in Indonesia.
Dick said nothing of the sort. People in George Glass houses shouldn't throw stones!
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 08:31
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George , no. I will not be sticking to GA. I fly quite a bit with our Aussie owned airlines now that I have sold the Citation.

Thats one one of the reasons I would prefer that no one becomes to confident that we will never have an accident.

Last edited by Dick Smith; 7th Nov 2018 at 09:50.
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 08:33
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Dick,

Excellent points indeed. Complacency and automation a deadly combination.

Yes Australia has a good safety culture and neighbouring countries certainly have issues. It is the big picture that needs to be fixed. Problem is like the tragic Air Asia A320 loss a few years ago nothing will be done, Lion Air will continue.

I say say good on the Australian government for not showing complacency and putting out the trave advice.

Back on topic, yes Australia has been lucky, it is the lucky country!

Look at the Mildura incident a few years ago, Perth and alternate fuel, I am sure there are many more.

Stay safe!
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 09:25
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Dick, I certainly don’t didagree with what you’re getting at. I do think the most complacent thing in Australian aviation is the assumption that CASA are an effective regulator. Our current safety record is only with us by virtue of the residual experience, culture and maintenance practices; all of which are being eroded by a regulator who capitulates to big business.

In my time in aviation, I have seen training, experience levels, maintenance (maintenance by MEL deferral due “nil time to rectify etc) all reduce to bare bones while MBA driven, career CEOs and slash and burn economics have risen unhindered.

Australia, at a latent level, is unsafe. We are a ticking time bomb and at any time, only hours away from having “the unimaginable accident”.

The fish rots from the head!
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 09:33
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With a record like this
BB solves JT 610 crash (post #6)
how does a LLC continue to make money after damaging 13 expensive hulls?
I guess the answer is it's simply the wrong people are running that airline with no ability or capability or care to fix it.
We must never become like that.
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 10:03
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Dick, Have you the faintest idea what you are talking about? Have you any understanding of how the Check and Training systems of major Australian RPT carriers work? The system that functions 24/7 365 days a year doesnt happen by accident. Why do you feel the need to comment on something you know nothing about? Why you had the ear of politicians for so long is a mystery.
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 10:50
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I don’t believe Dick was questioning the hard work being done, more about not resting on laurels. Nobody is immune to complacency, it is a daily discipline.
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 11:13
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Laurels are already being rested upon. Everything has been paired back to nothing and the evidence being used to justify it is all based on retrospective success.....which was built on a management style which has all but disappeared.
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 12:37
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Originally Posted by George Glass View Post
Dick, Have you the faintest idea what you are talking about? Have you any understanding of how the Check and Training systems of major Australian RPT carriers work? The system that functions 24/7 365 days a year doesnt happen by accident. Why do you feel the need to comment on something you know nothing about? Why you had the ear of politicians for so long is a mystery.
George Glass,
Instead of using this thread as an opportunity to stick it to Dick Smith, why don't you contribute something useful.

A number of contributors to this thread thread are on the money, "things" have been pared back, and even in Qantas, the "Head of Safety" (or whatever the current title is) no longer reports direct to the CEO.

To have a careful look at the consolidated list of six months of reportable incidents for one major Australian carrier makes sobering reading. We are not nearly as good as many of you obviously think you are. And, after all, in world aviation terms, Australian RPT is little more than a statistical rounding error.

And, as for CASA, a case can be made that, certainly in GA and the smaller RPT carrier, CASA diktats actually increase risk, I most certainly agree that the latent conditions for a major accident exists. And don't forget, before the jet age, Australia had a terrible accident record, and it is still pretty ropy at the non-jet end of public transport.

Indeed, as a matter of policy, flying skills have been degraded in Australia over recent years, as a Senior Check for a major carrier said to me recently, we were discussing the deterioration in handling standards: "We have made a terrible rod for our own backs".

Tootle pip!!

PS: And how about we drop "safety", a useless word, dimensionless but charged with emotion ---- a meaningless word in the context of risk management.

Last edited by LeadSled; 31st Oct 2018 at 14:12.
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 12:54
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Originally Posted by Dick Smith View Post
I find it fascinating that a number of people have contacted me to tell me how “safe” we are in Australia compared to countries such as Indonesia when it comes to airline flying.

Of course, the word “safe” means without risk and that unfortunately is not possible.

Both times that I have been Chairman of the regulator (CAA and then CASA) I would wake up every morning dreading that this could be the day when we have an airline accident.
Dick, with respect, I disagree.

Comparatively, we are statistically less likely to be harmed flying by Airline aircraft in Australia than Indonesia. That is a fact.

I do not believe that is simply a function of training (even though we train to excellent standards).

The reason we are safer, is because we have a mature system of oversight and safety management in Australia. This is why the FAA and the Europeans banned Indonesian carriers, not because of just pilot or engineer standards, or aircraft age, but because their airlines ability to manage safety to a risk level as low as reasonably practical (ALARP) was poor and their regulators abilty to oversight that was even worse.

In saying that you, as Chairman of CASA, were effectively in constant fear of an accident concerns me as it implies that you had no faith in the organisation you were leading’s ability to oversight, regulate and improve Australian airlines safety management systems. It is in effect an indictment on that very organisation and the airlines it oversees.

Whilst I have some sympathy for that view in terms of CASA, (its inaction on Indonesian carriers being one example), I do not agree that we, in Australia should live in constant fear of an Airline accident. This is not to say it will never happen, but the likelihood is extremely rare and should be getting rarer every year.

Previous commentators have suggested that there is a lack of ‘proper’ accountability in Australia. I would suggest those in doubt read Section 28 of the Act, in particular 28BE. Directors cannot escape their accountability. If they choose to ignore operational risk, they do so at their own peril.


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Old 30th Oct 2018, 13:03
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Complacency is, I believe, another word for the normalisation of deviance and no, it is not something that comes in a plain-brown wrapper. It is the insidious tendency to shave safety standards to the point where a crash becomes inevitable. The phrase was coined by a researcher looking at the Challenger shuttle disaster, Diane Vaughan who was also involved in the Columbia shuttle investigation. In both cases she identified instances of where NASA had accepted dangerous practices (sticking O-rings on the booster rockets & ceramic heat tile damage) as they hadn't caused any issue on earlier flights.

Australia does have a good aviation record. Whether it would be as good if we had some of the traffic and weather problems experienced in other countries is arguable but all of our legislation is written in blood so it cannot be argued that it is our regulator that is keeping us safe. If safety was dependent of the regulator I would never travel by air again after having had to deal with them.

The reality is that airlines have realised that crashes are enormously expensive both in dollar and reputation terms; the vast majority of pilots do not want to die; and engineers don't like the thought of their work being the cause of a crash. The task is for managers to realise that cutting training or maintenance is short road to hell (not forgetting that under the present regulations they can be held liable for breaches); for pilots to put their egos behind them and realise that you are never too old to learn and for engineers to always remember maintenance procedures are there for a reason.
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Old 30th Oct 2018, 21:59
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The authors of a few posts above are so far up themselves they fail to see reality.

It is only the competent, capable and experienced amongst our Australian professional pilot workforce who have retained and trained to a very high standard of airmanship and competency - despite the best efforts of CASA, incompetent and disinterested Ministers for Transport, Governments generally and airline executive management to minimize safety and investment in quality systems of type endorsement, check and training.

I suspect the most recent two B737 hull losses in this part of the World could be directly attributable to underfunded, inefficient and unskilled training and checking and possibly in the most recent loss, a near absence of checking and training.

When those few competent, capable and experienced amongst our Australian professional pilot workforce finally retire, watch the aviation accident and hull insurance rates both rise.

Dick Smith is on the money.
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