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Thursday, 24 September 1981
Page: 1838

Mr CHARLES JONES(10.19) —I wish to raise a matter not in any sense in an attempt to score off anyone but just to put a point of view, in an endeavour to get some assurances from the Minister for Transport (Mr Hunt) who I hope either will be listening or will be on his way to the chamber, on the recent aircraft accident in Sydney, the findings that the Minister tabled in this place on Tuesday and some of the information that is now starting to float out with regard to air operations. Whilst I realise that a commission of inquiry has been appointed to investigate the aircraft accident investigation report, I still believe we should get some assurances from the Minister that the Department is moving to ensure that the things that possibly brought about this tragic accident are not going to happen again. I draw the attention of the House to conclusion 5 on page 42 which states:

The aircraft operating weight used by the company did not make allowance for all the equipment carried on the aicraft.

The last sentence in conclusion 6 states:

The Weight Sheet incorrectly indicated that the aircraft was loaded within the maximum permitted limit.

In actual fact it was not. On page 43, conclusion 7 states:

The fuel load figure used by the pilot was in error by some 40 kg. The reason for this error could not be established.

Conclusion 13 states:

A take-off at the company limit of 700 degree centigrade reduced the power available by approximately 23 per cent and, under the ambient conditions, reduced the single-engine performance to a critical level.

This was done, obviously, with the approval, knowledge and direction of the company. On page 44, conclusion 14 states:

Officers of the Department of Transport were aware of the unapproved practices in respect of standard passenger weights and reduced power take-offs but action had not been taken to regularise the company's operations.

Conclusion 15 reads:

Although the aircraft was equipped with an auto-feather system, it was company policy, in the interests of fleet standardisation, not to use the system.

Was it for the safety of the passengers who were flying in that aeroplane that that was done or was it a case of the company stretching to the limit the operations of the aircraft to give maximum profit? I am trying to get the Minister for Transport's assurance that the Department is acting to ensure that all of these matters will be rectified. Conclusions 16 states:

The take-off was probably made with power set at the company limit of 700 degree centigrade ITT.

All the way through the report there are issues that indicate a laxity that has crept into the industry. The commuter industry is now a very substantial means of transport for thousands of people. Over a hundred thousand people fly from Newcastle to Sydney every year on commuters. It was clearly established in this report that the aircraft was 128 kilograms overweight. That is an unacceptable weight in the size of that aeroplane.

I am pleased to see the honourable member for Barton (Mr Bradfield) here. A Press report in today's Sydney Morning Herald which has obviously been checking on these matters states that the big jets are cutting back on power so as to reduce the level of noise to the people living under flight paths. That noise is just too bad for the people living there. The Department should ensure those aircraft are taking off and landing in conformity with the rules laid down in the manuals for take-off, weight, speed and all aspects that are necessary to ensure safety of operation. It is also claimed that aircraft are now using the full length of runways so they can take off with reduced power and so save wear and tear on the engine. I hope that the Minister will come into the House and give us an answer to some of these questions.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Millar) —Order! The honourable member's time has expired.