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Thursday, 27 November 1986
Page: 2935

Senator TOWNLEY(9.47) —I assure the Committee that under no circumstances would I use a wrong call sign, besides which my voice is recognised in Tasmania. There are a couple of things I would like to bring up. One is about the cost of regrading licences for pilots. I asked how much it costs to re-grade licences and how many pilots were involved. The answer given is that only airline transport pilot licence holders need to renew their licence by flight tests. At present there are 19 examiners of airmen who hold this class of licence. They undertake renewal flight testing twice a year, on each occasion using about two and a half hours of aircraft time. The answer states that this flying is included in the answer to my question No. 5 and that it would cost approximately $6,500 for each examiner this year. I want to know who tests the examiners of those airmen. This testing of pilots within Australia is something that I have criticised for many years and it is something that I believe is being taken too far. There seems to be a huge amount of flying done in the course of testing. I will not go through all the details of the hours given in answer to my question No. 5 but I do note that the Department does not now take its staff to the United States of America, mostly because of the drop in the Australian dollar; a lot of it is being done here. It is worth reading out the number of training hours for each departmental aircraft. The figures for departmental aircraft in 1986-87 are 1,121 hours for the F28 and 3,276 hours for the G1000. These aircraft one cannot fly for nothing; they are very expensive to fly around. The figure for the Bonanza was 309 hours. We go on to see that training is carried out not only in those kinds of aircraft, but also in Boeing 747s and Boeing 767s. Some of that is undertaken in the United States, although I do not know why. It states that 12 hours was undertaken in the United States and 36 hours here. Training on the A300 is done in Malaysia. The figures are 36 hours for the Boeing 727, 36 hours for the Boeing 737, 24 hours for the DC9 and 12 hours for the BAe146, all of which was done in Australia. We should not let these amounts go by without some comment.

I believe that too much money is being spent on training. I suppose that the Department will say again that it is because of safety. When Sir Reginald Ansett was alive he told me the same thing. Whenever the Department wants to get something through the Parliament or without criticism it blames safety. Airline staff are now doing the same thing. It has taken a long time but they have learnt quite a lot from the Department. Maybe this is starting to sound like a second reading speech. It is not meant to be. I apologise if it is. I would like the Minister to say whether some saving can be made in the huge expense involved in training airline examiners.

After a crash at Bankstown Airport recently there was some criticism of the Department's training procedures at the airport. I have been informed that no changes in the training procedures are to be implemented at Bankstown. A publication called a safety promotion bulletin will be issued telling airline pilots not to turn back when they have an engine failure. That is something one is told on the very first flight one makes. Is the Department going to start charging for things like the bulletin? Considering the Department is always talking about safety, why has it cut out the free issue of safety bulletins?