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Notice given 13 June 2007

3222  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

(1) Did the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) publish a statement on its website on 4 April 2007, ‘Response to the Lockhart River investigation report - statement by chief executive officer Bruce Byron’.

 

 (2) Did the statement include the sentence ‘I am unable to accept the conclusion in the Australian Transport Safety Bureau report that Civil Aviation Safety Authority contributed to factors that caused the accident’.

(3) Was the statement later revised through the amendment or omission of this sentence; if so: (a) on what date and at what time; (b) why; (c) on whose authority; and (d) if the sentence was amended, how.

(4) Was this statement later removed from the CASA website; if so: (a) on what date and time; (b) why; and (c) on whose authority was it removed.

(5) Why did Mr Byron deny the publication of this statement in evidence to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee on 21 May 2007.

(6) How will the Minister monitor CASA’s consideration and implementation of ATSB recommendations in its report on the Lockhart River crash.

(7) Does the Minister accept the conclusion of the ATSB that ‘the investigation also identified contributing safety factors relating to the regulatory oversight of Transair by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’ (ATSB Transport Safety Investigation Report, Collision with Terrain 11 km NW Lockhart River Aerodrome—7 May 2005—VH-TFU—SA227-DC (Metro 23) , p. xv).

3223  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

(1) (a) Can the Minister confirm that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in 2000 undertook to address the issue of guidance for inspectors in assessing airline management and safety system issues; and (b) can details be provided of CASA’s intended course of action and the date on which it proposed to take the action.

(2) Can the Minister confirm that the ATSB made a recommendation, Output No. R20000238, to CASA in 2001 concerning the need for CASA to ‘consider widening its existing skill base within the compliance Branch to ensure that CASA audit teams have expertise in all relevant areas, including human factors and management processes’.

(3) What specific actions did CASA take to meet this recommendation, and on what date were those actions taken.

(4) On what dates did the ATSB accept CASA’s response and close the recommendation file.

(5) (a) Was CASA’s employment of safety system specialists part of its response to this recommendation; (b) what purpose was to be served by their employment; and (c) when were they employed.

(6) (a) Does the Minister agree that there was insufficient guidance provided to CASA inspectors in assessing Transair’s management and safety systems; and (b) does the Minister agree that if this matter had been addressed then one of the contributing safety factors may not have occurred.

3224  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

 

 (1) Is the Minister aware that the Chief Executive Officer of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Mr Bruce Byron, told a media conference on 4 April 2007 that CASA’s surveillance of Transair was conducted in accordance with CASA procedures.

(2) (a) Did ATSB find that CASA’s oversight of Transair, in relation to the approval of Air Operator’s Certificate variations and the conduct of surveillance, was sometimes inconsistent with CASA’s policies, procedures and guidelines; and (b) is the Minister aware that Mr Byron told a media conference on 4 April 2007 that the finding was ‘not considered a safety factor’ by ATSB.

(3) Does the Minister endorse Mr Byron’s comment.

(4) Is the Minister aware that the ATSB report lists CASA’s failure to observe its policies, procedures and guidelines as a safety factor.

(5) On what basis did Mr Byron make the claim that CASA’s failure to observe its policies, procedures and guidelines was not identified as a safety factor by the ATSB.

3225  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

(1) Is the Minister aware that the failure of the Chief Executive Officer of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Mr Bruce Byron, to accept responsibility for the contributing safety factors and other safety factors attributed to CASA by the ATSB and related to the causes of the crash has offended and upset family members of the victims.

(2) Is the Minister aware that some family members of the victims have sought an apology for Mr Byron’s rejection of the ATSB’s findings; if so, how has the Minister and/or Mr Byron responded to these calls.

(3) Is the Minister aware that some family members of the victims have called for Mr Byron’s removal as Chief Executive Officer of CASA; if so, how has the Minister and/or Mr Byron responded to these calls.

(4) Has the Minister or the Prime Minister ever written or spoken personally to any of the victims’ families to express their condolences for the loss of the 15 lives in the Lockhart River crash; if so, can details be provided of these occasions.

3226  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005, can a copy be provided of the document from which the Chief Executive Officer of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Mr Bruce Byron, read from in estimates hearings of the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee on Monday, 21 May 2007, which he described as ‘the answer that I have got’ (RRAT Committee Hansard , p. 110P).

3227  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

 

 (1) With reference to the ‘Chart showing audit dates, audit scope, requests for corrective action observations’ attached to the answer to question on notice CASA 18, provided to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee on 1 February 2007, were critical observations made about Transair by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) as early as 18 May 1998 and not 20 December 1999 as shown in the chart.

(2) With reference to the ‘Summary of CASA oversight of Transair from 1998 to 7 May 2005’, Appendix H of the ATSB’s final report: (a) did CASA, on 18 May 1998, issue three non-conformance notices against Transair; and (b) is it stated that ‘the number of recurring NCNs gives CASA cause for concern’ (p. H-1).

(3) Does the Minister agree that some entries in Appendix H indicate that not only was Transair not complying with regulations, it was deliberately and systematically flouting regulations, for example the entries dated 31 July 1998, 3 September 1998, 6 December 1999, 17 September 2001 and 2 October 2001, 21 July 2004 and 23 July 2004, 28 August 2004, 28 September 2004 and 4 February 2005.

(4) Given that Appendix H states that Transair advised CASA on 24 September 1999 that it would be fitting predictive ground proximity warning systems to its Metroliner aircraft: (a) how was CASA advised of the decision; (b) did Transair fulfil its undertaking to CASA; and (c) did CASA follow up to ensure that the fitting of the warning systems had occurred.

(5) Similarly, given that Transair stated that it would be giving video based training to its crew on flight into terrain awareness and that the company operations manual would be amended to reflect that training: (a) how was CASA advised of the decision; (b) did Transair fulfil its undertaking to CASA; and (c) did CASA follow up to ensure that the training had occurred.

(6) Is it the case that neither the pilot in command nor the co-pilot of VH-TFU had received ‘controlled flight into terrain’ training.

3228  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

(1) Why did the Minister, on 14 December 1999, remove international Regular Public Transport operations from Transair’s Air Operator’s Certificate.

(2) Given that Transair stated on 7 January 2000 that it intended to introduce a quality assurance system and that the system would incorporate a safety system: (a) did this occur; and (b) did the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) follow up to ensure that it had.

(3) At the time of the crash, did Transair have a quality assurance system in place, including a safety system; if so, can details be provided of the system that was in place at the time.

(4) Given that Transair, on 14 January 2000, made various undertakings following the drafting of a show cause notice against its chief pilot: (a) did Transair fulfilled any of these undertakings; and (b) did CASA follow up to ensure that it had.

 

 (5) Does the ATSB consider that the events outlined in the chart attached to the answer to question on notice CASA 18, provided to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee on 1 February 2007, and Appendix H of the ATSB’s final report on the crash constitute a consistent pattern through the period of issues not being fixed or corrected.

3229  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

(1) (a) What was the purpose and the methodology used for Safety Trend Indicator (STI) assessments when they were instituted by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA); (b) why were the assessments instituted; (c) what sort of information did they provide; and (d) how was information obtained in the assessments used by CASA.

(2) For each STI assessment conducted on Transair, can details be provided of the specific areas assessed, the qualifications and expertise of the officers involved in the assessment, the duration of the assessment, the details of the findings of each assessment and any subsequent action that was taken by CASA.

(3) (a) Is it the case that of the five STI assessments conducted on Transair that in four of the assessments Transair was listed as a high risk; (b) was a score of 17 registered in April 2000; and (c) is this the highest STI risk score that has been recorded by an Australian airline; if not what is the highest recorded score.

(4) Is it the case that in October 2002 Transair still recorded an STI score of 12 and that any score over 7 is defined by CASA as being high risk.

(5) Is it the case that no special audit or spot check was carried out on Transair after December 1999 because CASA inspectors from the Brisbane airline office did not consider Transair to be a high-risk operator.

(6) (a) Is the Minister aware that in a matter of six months, from October 2002 to May 2003, Transair’s weighted STI score fell from 12 to 3, that is from a high-risk operator to a low-risk operator; and (b) what actions taken during in that period, by CASA and/or Transair, led to this change.

(7) After the abandonment of STI assessments in 2003, why was no replacement made available to CASA, particularly as audits were reduced from being undertaken twice yearly to once yearly.

(8) Has CASA developed a replacement risk assessment model; if not, does it intend to.

(9) Does the Minister consider a risk assessment model to be a critical part of CASA’s capacity to ensure the safety of the travelling public.

(10) Is it correct that in 2003 an audit of CASA recommended development of a risk assessment model, and a number of suggestions were provided on how it should work.

 

 3230  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

(1) Did the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) examine its files on Lessbrook prior to the grant of necessary approvals in relation to setting up the Big Sky operation in New South Wales, including the ports of Grafton, Gunnedah, Taree, Inverell, Cooma and Sydney; if not, why not.

(2) (a) Did the CASA audit of Transair in September/October 2002 result in 7 requests for corrective action (RCAs) and two observations being issued; (b) did the subsequent 3 CASA audits of Transair, in February and August 2003 and February 2004, result in 1 RCA and 4 observations being issued; and (c) did the CASA audit in August 2004 resulted in 13 RCAs and 16 observations being issued.

(3) Were there any differences in approach, the number of inspection personnel, the skills and expertise of inspection personnel, the duration of the audits, supervisory rigor, audit scope and content between the three audits of Transair in February and August 2003 and February 2004 and those preceding and after them.

(4) Can a chart be provided that details all audits of Big Sky Express, including the date and scope of the audit and the number of RCAs and observations issued.

(5) Can details be provided of any correspondence, written or verbal, contact or meeting between Transair and/or Lessbrook and the Minister and/or members of his staff, the department and CASA in relation to the setting up of Big Sky operations in New South Wales.

3231  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

(1) Were any directions, show causes or conditions issued, at any time in relation to any of the items raised either in the chart attached to the answer to question on notice CASA 18, provided to the Rural and Regional Affairs Committee on 1 February 2007, or to Appendix H of the ATSB’s final report; if so, can details be provided.

(2) Were any of the directions, show causes or conditions referred to in paragraph (1) recommended, for example by the relevant Area Manager, at any time in relation to any of the items raised; if so: (a) was each direction, show cause or condition complied with; (b) how long was taken to comply; and (c) what action was taken by the operator.

(3) (a) Was consideration given, at any time, to suspend or cancel Transair’s Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) on the basis of the issues identified; and (b) were penalties imposed for any of these items; if so what were the penalties.

(4) (a) Was consideration given, at any time, to the cumulative impact of the items identified between May 1998 and March 2005 with a view to show cause, cancellation or suspension; and (b) can the Minister provide all correspondence between the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the operator concerning the items raised.

 

 (5) (a) How many of the problems of a like kind that were raised in the chart or in the summary recurred between May 1998 and the withdrawal of Transair’s AOC; and (b) for each problem, what was its nature.

(6) Given that a number of maintenance issues were raised: (a) who carried out unauthorised maintenance; (b) on whose instructions was it carried out; and (c) in each instance of unauthorised maintenance, what type was undertaken.

(7) (a) Who were the unauthorised and/or unqualified persons who acted as instructors or conducted pilot checks and training mentioned in the chart and the summary; (b) on how many separate occasions were incidents of this nature identified; and (c) for each occasion, can details be provided.

3232  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

(1) Have all of Transair’s approved routes, areas and airports been examined to establish whether all flight and turn times are realistic and fall within prudent limits.

(2) Given that the ATSB’s final report on the crash indicates that VH-TFU was scheduled to depart each terminal on the route no more than 20 minutes after arrival, do the ATSB and CASA consider those turn times were prudent.

(3) (a) Is it the case that the chart attached to the answer to question on notice CASA 18, provided to the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee on 1 February 2007, made the observation in relation to an audit of Transair on 16 to 24 August 2004 that the turn times were unrealistic; (b) which routes and aircraft types did this observation apply to; and (b) in each instance, how long after arrival at each terminal the aircraft was scheduled to depart.

3233  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

(1) Does the Minister accept that a pilot can undergo both a ground school and flying conversion course for Metroliner aircraft in one day and be proficient on the type and able to conduct Regular Public Transport flights safely.

(2) Is it the case that a ground school can consist of reading a training manual and that no formal training is required.

(3) (a) Who conducted the ground school and flying conversion courses for the two pilots of VH-TFU; (b) was that person qualified; if so, what are those qualifications; and (c) what was the duration and location of each course.

(4) Are the statements of fact in the ATSB’s final report on the crash relating to ground school training consistent with the answer to question on notice CASA 11 from the 2006 additional estimates hearings of the Rural and Regional Affair and Transport Committee.

(5) Did the ‘fairly fulsome’ audit undertaken by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Transair in early 2005 identify any of the problems, failures and regulatory breaches identified in the ATSB report.

 

 3234  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005 and in light of the release of the final report into the Lockhart River aviation tragedy by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, will the Minister now provide the information sought in questions on notice nos 2756 (Senate Hansard , 21 March 2007, p. 146) and 2833 (Senate Hansard , 22 March 2007, p. 183).

3235  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

(1) Is the Minister aware that the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Chief Executive Officer, Mr Bruce Byron, told a media conference on 4 April 2007 that ‘there were no significant safety breaches [at Transair] that CASA was aware of, that would have led to taking regulatory action against the operator prior to the accident’.

(2) (a) Can a schedule be provided that lists the regulatory breaches and breaches of the company’s operations manual prior to the crash that are identified in the ATSB’s final report on the crash; and (b) is the Minister satisfied that none of these breaches constituted significant safety breaches that warranted action prior to the crash.

3236  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005, do Civil Aviation Safety Authority records on the assessment of VH-TFU in regard to the issue of an Australian certificate of airworthiness record the installation of the aircraft’s Global Positioning System; if not, why not.

3237  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

(1) Does Civil Aviation Order (CAO) 108.36 require visual warnings for Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) modes 1 through 4 to be within the field of view of both pilots.

(2) Were the GPWS annunciators and switches in the cockpit of VH-TFU an estimated 41 degrees to the left of the co-pilot’s field of view.

(3) Was the placement of the visual warnings in the cockpit of VH-TFU consistent with the requirements laid down in CAO 108.36; if so, how were they placed.

3238  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

(1) Did the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) authorise Transair to conduct Regular Public Transport (RPT) cargo-only services between Australia and Papua New Guinea in October 1999.

 

 (2) Did CASA withdraw authorisation in December 1999 because Transair operated the aircraft VH-TFQ on the RPT service despite not being authorised for RPT operations.

(3) On how many occasions did Transair operate VH-TFQ on the RPT service without authorisation.

(4) Did CASA take any other action against Transair for operating VH-TFQ on the RPT service without authorisation; if so, what action.

(5) Was Transair’s unauthorised operation of VH-TFQ on the RPT service taken into account when Transair sought authorisation to conduct RPT passenger operations between Christmas Island and Jakarta in September 2001 consistent with CASA’s obligation to satisfy itself that all applicants for the issue of, or variation to, an Air Operator’s Certificate have complied with, or are capable of complying with, the provisions of the Civil Aviation Act 1988 , the regulations and the Civil Aviation Orders that relate to safety; if so, how.

(6) Similarly, was Transair’s unauthorised operation of VH-TFQ on the RPT service taken into account when Transair sought authorisation to conduct RPT passenger operations within Australia consistent with CASA’s obligations as stated in paragraph (5).

3239  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

(1) Can the Minister confirm that Transair operated the aircraft VH-TFQ on Big Sky Express Regular Public Transport (RPT) passenger services in New South Wales when the aircraft was not authorised for RPT operations.

(2) On how many occasions did Transair operate VH-TFQ on Big Sky Express RPT services without authorisation.

(3) Was this the same aircraft that Transair operated on RPT cargo operations between Australia and Papua New Guinea without authorisation.

(4) Did the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) conduct en route inspections of Transair’s Big Sky Express RPT operations on VH-TFQ without establishing whether VH-TFQ was authorised for RPT operations; if so: (a) why; and (b) can details be provided of each inspection, including the date and route flown.

(5) (a) On what date did CASA become aware that Transair operated VH-TFQ on Big Sky Express RPT services without authorisation; and (b) what action, if any, did CASA take against Transair for operating the aircraft without authorisation.

3240  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

(1) Can the Minister confirm that Transair operated the aircraft VH-IAW on Big Sky Express Regular Public Transport (RPT) passenger services in New South Wales when the aircraft was not authorised for RPT operations.

(2) On how many occasions did Transair operate VH-IAW on Big Sky Express RPT services without authorisation.

 

 (3) (a) On what date did CASA become aware that Transair operated VH-IAW on Big Sky Express RPT services without authorisation; and (b) what action, if any, did CASA take against Transair for operating the aircraft without authorisation.

3241  Senator McLucas: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for Transport and Regional Services—With reference to the investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau of the fatal crash of the aircraft VH-TFU at Lockhart River in May 2005:

(1) Did the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) advise Transair in 1998, while the chief pilot was away on other duties, that another pilot should be nominated and approved to act as chief pilot; if so, on what date and in what form did CASA provide that advice.

(2) (a) On what date was a pilot approved by CASA to act as chief pilot in the chief pilot’s absence; (b) had that pilot previously been found by CASA to be unsuitable for the role; if so, on what basis was the pilot found to be unsuitable.

3242  Senator Bob Brown: To ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources—Can the hexachlorobenzene currently stockpiled at the Botany site of Orica Pty Ltd be safely disposed of within Australia; if not: (a) what obstacles exist for its safe disposal in Australia; and (b) how best might these obstacles be overcome.