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Thursday, 26 February 1987
Page: 882

(Question No. 4961)


Mr Mildren asked the Minister for Aviation, upon notice, on 27 November 1986:

Further to his answer to question No. 4726 (Hansard, 23 October 1986, page 2710) is he aware of any occasion where the life-saving equipment, including inflatable vests and rafts, prescribed in commercial aircraft for flights over water saved any lives; if so, can he provide details.


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

Since the beginning of 1969 there have been five accidents where life vests or rafts have played a part in saving lives following aircraft accidents. In all cases life-vests, for all persons on board, were required to be carried on the flights undertaken but rafts were not prescribed. Details are as follows:

18.1.70 Norseman UC64A VH-GSF, Commercial Charter, near Port Jackson, NSW. Following an engine failure the pilot abandoned the aircraft and parachuted into the sea. He was picked up by a boat 15 minutes later. He had been injured in the descent but was supported in the water by his life vest.

26.6.72 Cessna 150 VH-KQX, Commercial Aerial Work near Cape Banks, SA. The aircraft was `ditched' following an engine failure. Both occupants wore life vests of an unapproved type. The pilot was rendered unconscious during the landing and went down with the aircraft. The injured passenger made his way to the beach several hundred metres away.

9.4.73 Bell 206 helicopters VH-ANC, Commercial Charter and VH-UHJ, Private, Polmaise Reef, near Gladstone, Qld. Four passengers and two pilots were picked up by boat 80 minutes after abandoning their disabled aircraft. All wore life vests and two rafts were employed.

22.4.73 Piper PA23 VH-IAB, Commercial Charter, near Karumba, Qld. The aircraft was ditched after an engine failure. The pilot and five passengers were picked up by boat three hours later. Two life vests and a raft were employed.

27.4.81 Aero Commander 500s VH-EXQ, Commercial Charter, South of Hobart Airport, Tas. The aircraft was `ditched' at night. Life vests with lights, were available for all six persons on board but only one vest was recovered before the aircraft sank. Two passengers swam 500 metres to shore and the other four persons remained afloat with the aid of the life vest and a seat cushion until located by helicopter one hour after the landing.