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Tuesday, 10 September 1996
Page: 3917

(Question No. 451)

Mr Kelvin Thomson asked the Minister for Transport and Regional Development, upon notice, on 24 June 1996:

(1) Did an air safety incident occur near Essendon Airport at approximately 4.50 p.m. on 15 June 1996 involving two aircraft endeavouring to land on the north-south runway simultaneously; if so, (a) will he ensure that the Bureau of Air Safety (BASI) examines the incident and (b) what airspace control procedures have been implemented to prevent incidents of this kind occurring over Essendon Airport.

(2) Did the Civil Aviation Authority state at page 33 of the BASI report on the crash of a De Havilland Dove aircraft during take-off from Essendon Airport in December 1993 that it would continue investigations into the cause of the fuel control unit failure in the right engine; if so, what is the status of the investigations.

(3) Is it a fact that since Essendon Airport became a light aircraft airport following the establishment of Tullamarine Airport, a series of accidents and incidents have occurred, including the Partenavia crash in 1978 killing 6 persons, the air ambulance crash in 1986 killing all on board and the De Havilland Dove crash in December 1993 on 5 houses in Essendon; if so, will he act to relocate Essendon Airport's aviation operations to a more appropriate site such as Point Cook.

Mr Sharp —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), Airservices Australia and the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation (BASI) have provided the following advice:

(1)(a) Two aircraft operating in the circuit at Essendon were operating under a sight and follow procedure. This is a normal procedure for aircraft operating at aerodromes such as Essendon. The tower controller observed one aircraft turn early and because he had doubts about the manoeuvre he issued positive control instructions to the aircraft so that safety would not be compromised. No incident report was required to be submitted and therefore there was no requirement for BASI involvement.

(1)(b) The actions of the tower controller are the specified procedures in such instances.

(2) Yes. The investigation into the cause of the fuel control unit failure in the right engine has been conducted in consultation with Dove operators, the Civil Aviation Authority of the United Kingdom and maintenance organisations, both in Australia and the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, this investigation has been prolonged due to the fact that the manufacturer of the fuel controls has ceased its business, making it difficult to obtain the data that is required for this investigation.

The investigation is still continuing, and has not produced any evidence to change CASA's view that the fuel control failure on the Dove aircraft was an isolated incident.

(3) Yes. The three accidents referred to by the honourable member have occurred at Essendon. The Government is currently examining the future operation of Essendon Airport and will take into account community concerns as part of this consideration.