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Norfolk ditching- license back?

Old 6th Aug 2010, 11:54
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Norfolk ditching- license back?

I recall that CASA suspended the pilot in command's license after the ditching.

Now that the rules are changing to 'close the loop hole' that allowed the accident to happen, a decision which on some levels would clear his name for the accident, has his license been reinstated?
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Old 6th Aug 2010, 12:37
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would clear his name for the accident, has his license been reinstated?
You are joking, ofcourse.
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Old 6th Aug 2010, 13:29
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Yep, I am.

The question remains, if he didn't bust a reg, why the suspended license? Leaving the plane first doesn't count.
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Old 6th Aug 2010, 13:35
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There are a lot of reasons from his pre-flight planning to his decision making. He should just stick to modeling. At least he won't have the chance to put others in peril again!
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Old 6th Aug 2010, 15:13
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Following the regs does not relieve you from the golden rule, "thou shalt not run out of fuel."
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Old 7th Aug 2010, 03:47
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Poor preflight planning, inadequate decision making and running out of fuel as a result, are lots of things. I do have an opinion on his actions, just like all you guys.

But do they alone justify license suspension?

If you haven't broken a reg, what you guys are suggesting is that the opinion of a desk jockey in casa can get your license pulled.

Dangerous territory.

If you plan a flight with the legal fuel requirements and unforecast wx means your destination (and alternate if you have one) become impossible to land at (legally or otherwise- pilot in commands authority to break rules if reqd to keep the flight out of the water/dirt applies here) then does this culmination of events mean your license is done?

So, what I am asking here is NOT what you think about this guy, ditching or cleo magazine BUT:

What about the LEGAL situation that applies to this PILOTS ability to work.

If he didn't fulfill his legal obligation in other areas of the flight well ok, thats the question.

Does anyone know why the guys license is pulled when the reg he/his company was operating to has been changed by CASA to prevent a recurrence of this accident?
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Old 7th Aug 2010, 04:56
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The great catch-alls

CAR 233 Responsibility of the pilot in command before flight

(1) The pilot in command of a flight must not commence a flight if he or she has not received evidence, and taken such action as is necessary to ensure, that:
...
(d) the fuel supplies are sufficient for a particular flight; ...

CAR 234 Fuel Requirements

(1) THe pilot in command of an aircraft must not commence a flight within Australian territory, or to or from Australian territory, if he or she has not taken reasonable steps to ensure that the aircraft carries sufficient fuel and oil to enable the proposed flight to be undertaken in safety.
Penalty: 50 penalty units

(2) An operator of an aircraft (..subatantially same as para 1)

(3) For the purposes of these regulations, for determining whether fuel and oil carried on an aircraft ...was sufficient, a court must tke into account the following matters:
(horribly abbreviated
(a) the distance
(b) the weather
(c) the possibility of forced diversion to an alternate, delays in landing clearance, ATC re-routing, DP, and OEI; and
(d) any guidelines issued from time to time by CASA for the purposes of this regulation.

(4) An offence against (1) or (2) is an offence of strict liability



CAR 269 Variation, suspension or cancellation of licence, certificate or authority

(1)...CASA may...vary, suspend or cancel the licence...where CASA is satisfied that one or more of the following grounds exist, namely:
(c) that the holder of the licence, certificate or authority has failed in his or her duty with respect to any matter affecting the safe navigation navigation or operation of an aircraft; or
(d) ...(etc)

-----------------------------------------------------------------
If you run out of fuel, you weren't carrying legal fuel. End of story.

The operation's fuel requirements weren't subject to CAO 82.x and yes maybe CASA has realised that is a loophole. HOWEVER, nobody has their licence cancelled, supended or revoked for breaching a CAO but for breaching a Reg or the Act.

As a group of professionals we (GA pilots) cut ourselves and our mates too much slack. Our expectations of our own conduct, and that of our peers, is too low.

I have a lot of sympathy for Mr James on a personal* level. However, there is no denying that the planning for, and conduct of Mr James' last flight was below the standard for a professional pilot, regardless of when some subordinate piece of delegated legislation might say.

*Many years ago now my flying career spent several years in the wilderness following an act of purest stupidity. I deserved it. I had to go back to square 1 and re-prove myself to my peers, my mates, CASA, my family and myself. Character building, but unpleasant. One star.

Last edited by Horatio Leafblower; 7th Aug 2010 at 05:10.
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Old 7th Aug 2010, 05:10
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If you run out of fuel, you weren't carrying legal fuel. End of story.
No that is not correct. There is one word used in all those CARS which kills your theory.

CAR 233 Responsibility of the pilot in command before flight

(1) The pilot in command of a flight must not commence a flight if he or she has not received evidence, and taken such action as is necessary to ensure, that:
CAR 234 Fuel Requirements

(1) THe pilot in command of an aircraft must not commence a flight within Australian territory, or to or from Australian territory, if he or she has not taken reasonable steps to ensure that the aircraft carries sufficient fuel and oil to enable the proposed flight to be undertaken in safety.
So if at the planning stage you have enough fuel to get to your destination legally then the flight is legal. If the BOM have stuffed up the forecast or you get some weird weather set in, that does not mean your flight is now illegal, it just means you have to find a solution....of which a ditching or precautionary landing is one option.

If this guys had his license pulled then I suggest he get a lawyer and take CASA to court.

There have been plenty of instances of commercial jet operations getting caught out in perth......does that mean those flights are illegal and all the captains should be suspended too??
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Old 7th Aug 2010, 05:26
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G'day Nev

I guess I look at different words:

CAR 233 Responsibility of the pilot in command before flight

(1) The pilot in command of a flight must not commence a flight if he or she has not received evidence, and taken such action as is necessary to ensure, that:
...
(d) the fuel supplies are sufficient for a particular flight; ...
And then in this one:

CAR 234 Fuel Requirements

(1) The pilot in command of an aircraft must not commence a flight within Australian territory, or to or from Australian territory, if he or she has not taken reasonable steps to ensure that the aircraft carries sufficient fuel and oil to enable the proposed flight to be undertaken in safety.
You say:
There have been plenty of instances of commercial jet operations getting caught out in perth......does that mean those flights are illegal and all the captains should be suspended too??
...I would suggest they have landed the aeroplane at an alternate, for which they were carrying sufficient fuel, and not ditched it at night in bad weather putting in peril the lives of all on board
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Old 7th Aug 2010, 05:59
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This exercise goes to show how poorly worded aviation law really is!!

CAR 233 is referring to the planning stage, so what happens after push back is irrelevant

You could also argue in CAR 234 that reasonable steps were taken to ensure that the aircraft has sufficient fuel. As long as you keep yourself availed of the appropriate weather, and recalculate your fuel on arrival that is considered to be 'reasonable steps' If the forecasts says CAVOK all the way then you get the ATIS and it's broken at 100' you have taken reasonable steps to ensure you have enough fuel. The fact that the TTF changed doesn't make you in breach of those CARS.

Off the top of my head there was a 747 on a domestic flight going to Perth who went past the PNR then the forecast changed to fog. I think they just shot the approach and landed after declaring an emergency.

QF A330 into SYD did the same thing got the latest weather through their descent PNR for Canberra wx was ok for landing. When they contacted approach the aerodrome was fogged in and they autolanded.

There was some other event in Perth 10+ years ago where the wx changed at the last minute and they were tossing up ditching near Rottnest but ended up autolanding. I think that one might be more urban myth than fact though.
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Old 7th Aug 2010, 06:25
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It's an interesting exercise in perception vs reality.

Extraordinary outcome = hero

Same circumstances, bad outcome = villain.

Does the (relatively) good outcome from the autoland events you refer to make us less critical of the acts and omissions which led to the event?

Tony Kern wrote an excellent entry in his blog in which he compared the Hudson River ditching with a very similar "event" in Eastern Europe, which makes exactly this point. The outcomes of these events can be determined by completely random factors such as water temperature or the availability of boats to rescue your pax. Without taking anything away from Sullenberger, he points out that the failure to hit the ditch switch may have caused a very different outcome in only slightly different circumstances.

Although I disagree in my interpretation, I understand the point you're making about "planning". Should he perhaps have planned for an alternate? Isn't that the crux of it?
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Old 7th Aug 2010, 06:36
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Horatio

Highlighting parts only and reading them out of the context of the whole will clearly give you a different meaning. As you have just demonstrated.

Take the CAR parts in their entireity (sp?) to get the correct intent when they were written.

Both the exerpts quoted above include "...must not commence a flight..." in their text.

Did the guy discharge his duties preflight? Did he then discharge his duties with due care and dilligence during the flight?

By your own logic, if you are caught out with unforecast weather unable to land safely then automatically the PIC has committed an offence.

Whether or not he actually deserves a licence is another question. How CASA would try and paint it in court is another question also.
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Old 7th Aug 2010, 07:12
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Should he perhaps have planned for an alternate? Isn't that the crux of it?
Should have doesn't stand up in court. Either there was a legal requirement for an alternate or there isn't one.

It is interesting to note that company's suddenly become very good at interpreting aviation law when you want to talk about offloading pax or freight for some comfort fuel. If there is no requirement there is no requirement.

Does the (relatively) good outcome from the autoland events you refer to make us less critical of the acts and omissions which led to the event?
No. In both those instances the captains operated wholly within company SOPs, the AIPs, and the CARS yet they still nearly ended up ditching. As far as I can remember there is not one thing either of them could have done to change the outcome. So you just declare an emergency and do what you have to do.
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Old 7th Aug 2010, 07:59
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There was a case back in the early '70's where a MMA F28 diverted to Fitzroy Crossing early one morning when Fog rolled in at destination Broome and then Derby (almost unheard of) and he was forced to divert. A very interesting story, as I recall with the hospital staff putting the flares out at ~0300 and the aircraft arriving when there was only a single path laid. His first approach was to the wrong side of the flares.... the second approach was good, but one engine reportedly flamed out on the ground....due lack of fuel! That Capt was noted for always carrying an extra 1000lb+ for Mum & the Kids....
Under today's rules and SOP's and management policy/direction, they may have lost the a/c???.

As one senior pilot I know has said more than once... Lad, they are fuel tanks not air tanks!
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Old 7th Aug 2010, 08:33
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The ATSB report (when it eventually is released) on this matter is going to be fascinating.

Based on nothing but what I have read in the various threads dealing with the matter I suspect that it will show that when the flight departed Samoa for Norfolk Island it was legal and did not require an alternate due to weather.

I suspect that it will also show that despite the company, either having a dispensation from carrying alternate fuel to a remote island or it was not required due to the fact that the flight was under the airwork category, that it did have sufficient fuel to reach an alternate up to the point about top of descent into Norfolk Island.

The huge question in my mind is why did the pilots decide to carry on with that descent in the knowledge that the conditions at Norfolk Island had deteriorated below the alternate minima? This action committed them to landing at Norfolk Island, one way or another rather than diverting to Noumea.

Now I could easily be wrong on the last point. The pilots may not have know the weather had deteriorated until after they were committed to Norfolk Island. If that is the case then the pilot's licence should never have been pulled. If the former was the case then there is a very strong case for the CASA intervention.

Bring on the report.

Last edited by PLovett; 7th Aug 2010 at 08:34. Reason: Spelling mong!
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Old 7th Aug 2010, 09:03
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I'm not sure of the fuel load on board at departure but it may be the case of the age old problem, carry additional fuel and perhaps be overweight and cop the wrath if you get ramped, or do you keep it all within limits and put the thing into the sea if something goes awry with the wx and stay 'legal'.

Personally i believe the onus is on the PIc to ensure he has enough fuel plus mandatory reserves plus reserves for the unexpected. Jesus its a long swim....IF you survive the ditching. Night, bad wx, low fuel status..........a sure recipe for disaster!
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Old 7th Aug 2010, 09:20
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Thank Nev, my point exactly.

Having your license pulled only is about contravention of regs or not. Not airmanship. Not woulda, shoulda or coulda.

I guess from all this discussion he hasn't got his license and if I were him i'd be getting lawyer as well.
Mind you, he probably is modelling again and making crap loads more money than he ever did as a pilot and isn't interested in flying anymore after his accident.

Who are the real idiot(s) again??
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Old 7th Aug 2010, 09:56
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Many moons ago:

Captain pulled in for questioning re landing in London with max possible fuel remaining.

Manager: Why did you carry that amount of fuel?

Captain: Because I couldn't get any more on!
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Old 7th Aug 2010, 21:49
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Old Saying:

Gas is better than Brains.
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Old 7th Aug 2010, 23:21
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Based on nothing but what I have read in the various threads dealing with the matter I suspect that it will show that when the flight departed Samoa for Norfolk Island it was legal and did not require an alternate due to weather.

I suspect that it will also show that despite the company, either having a dispensation from carrying alternate fuel to a remote island or it was not required due to the fact that the flight was under the airwork category, that it did have sufficient fuel to reach an alternate up to the point about top of descent into Norfolk Island.
Based on what I have read in the various threads dealing with the matter and in the preliminary report, it was a charter flight - Pelair was not the air ambulance operator, careflight was. Pelair was just a chartered aircraft supplier.
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