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Qantas stays under the radar on mid-air incid -

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ELEANOR HALL: The mid-air incident on a Qantas flight over Western Australia last week is hardly
good publicity for the flying kangaroo.

But the airline would have been buoyed by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's preliminary
report which laid the blame for that incident on aircraft manufacturer Airbus and its in-flight
computer system.

Airbus has now contacted all of its customers to warn them of the chance the problem may happen
again.

And while Qantas is refusing to comment on the issue, its competitor and fellow Airbus customer,
Singapore Airlines, is happy to explain how airlines react to these sorts of industry-wide safety
warnings.

Reporter Simon Santow spoke to Stephen Forshaw, the vice president of public affairs with Singapore
Airlines.

STEPHEN FORSHAW: All of the airlines and the manufacturers have a very open communication process
where an incident that occurs anywhere in the world, of varying severity levels is always
communicated between the manufacturer and other operators of similar aircraft type.

And that's so that we all understand, as investigations are proceeding, what learnings are coming
out of those investigations.

SIMON SANTOW: How seriously does Singapore take this warning?

STEPHEN FORSHAW: We take this as seriously as we take the many warnings as we get on serious
incidents around the world that affect airlines operating the various aircraft types similar to
those we have in our fleet.

SIMON SANTOW: Do your pilots believe that something similar to what has happened to the Qantas
plane could happen to the Singapore planes?

STEPHEN FORSHAW: Look we don't actually yet operate the A330s that Qantas operate, although we are
scheduled to take delivery of our first one within a couple of months.

We do operate the A340 which is a similar aircraft to the A330, so in these sort if incidents the
pilots are always going to look at what theoretical possibilities exist.

The investigators have made the observation that the likelihood of a recurrence of this incident is
very unlikely, the incident itself is very very rare. I think Airbus have noted that this is the
first time such an incident has occurred with the six or 700 A330s in service around the world.

SIMON SANTOW: Qantas chose to pay compensation to its passengers, those passengers who were aboard
that flight, and they chose to do that before the preliminary investigation findings were made
public.

Is it typical in your experience of airlines to pay compensation in these cases?

STEPHEN FORSHAW: Look I think Qantas' decision is very much a question for Qantas and I'm sure
they've taken advice from their insurers. But also you do tend as an airline to look at the good
will impact that such a gesture would have on customers.

We have done so before as well, where you can certainly see that there is a benefit in paying
compensation quickly and helping customers to resolve issues.

You need in the case of customers who require ongoing medical or psychological treatment to give
them some satisfaction very quickly that you're going to be able to help them and you know, if an
airline chooses to do that quickly, then there is probably some merit in doing so.

But these decisions are usually taken in co-operation with the airline insurers that are also
experienced in dealing with these type of incidents.

SIMON SANTOW: It was reported early on, mainly because Qantas chose not to talk about what their
pilot's had experienced, it was reported that it was likely to be clear air turbulence for quite a
few days.

In your experience do airlines tend to pay compensation when it's clear air turbulence? Or does it
have to be something like this?

STEPHEN FORSHAW: No I think obviously the circumstances are on a case-by-case basis, I saw some
early reports suggesting clear air turbulence.

The great problem in these sort of cases is of course you've got a thirst for information on the
part of the public and especially the media, I want to know what happened and I want to know now.

The reality is, these days with modern and highly technical aircraft, coming out with a reason for
the occurrence straight away is very difficult.

These days you've got to have access to the flight data recorders, to the flight computers and so
on, to get the data that's going to help you pin point what actually occurred.

But there is, particularly in the 24/7 news cycle, a thirst for information that leads to people
starting to speculate.

I think at the end of the day investigators have to have time to do their jobs thoroughly, the
importance is not the speed in which you come up with an answer, but coming up with the right
answer. And then look, airlines will make their individual decisions on how to best handle the
impact on their customers.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Stephen Forshaw, the vice president of public affairs with Singapore Airlines,
speaking to our reporter, Simon Santow.