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Wednesday, 14 May 1980
Page: 2258

Senator Chaney -On 18 March 1980 (Hansard, page 709) Senator Townley asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Transport, a question without notice concerning commuter aircraft pilot standards. The Minister for Transport has provided me with the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

My depanment is aware of the recent amendment to the United States Federal Aviation Regulations Part 135 introducing minimum on type operating experience requirements for pilots in command of passenger carrying commuter aircraft. These requirements are as described in the honourable senator's question, but it should be pointed out that the minimum hours specified may, in most cases, be reduced by up to 50% where additional landings and take-offs are carried out.

My department has for some time now been conducting a review of commuter aircraft operational and flight crew standards. The standards specified for commuter aircraft operations in the United States and other overseas countries are being examined as part of that review. I am advised that in the very near future proposals arising from that review will be distributed to individual commuter operators and other interested aviation organisations for their consideration and comment. Included will be several proposals for upgrading the aeronautical experience and proficiency requirements for commuter pilots.

The type operating experience requirements which apply to Australian commuter pilots at the present time are-

(a)   for single-engined aircraft- 5 hours acting as pilotincommand, after endorsement on the type;

(b)   for multi-engined aircraft, other than aircraft for which a 1st Class endorsement is required- 10 hours acting as pilot-in-command, after endorsement on the type; and

(c)   for aircraft for which a 1st Class endorsement is required (e.g. turbo-jet aircraft)- 50 hours acting as pilot-in-command after endorsement on the type.

Finally, with regard to the recent crash in Sydney, the pilot of that aircraft had approximately 450 hours experience as pilot in command on the type.

Darwin Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Service

Senator Chaneyon 18 March 1980 (Hansard, page 709) Senator Robertson asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Transport, the following question without notice:

My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport, refers to the proposed downgrading of Darwin Airport's rescue and fire fighting service to category 7. I note the opposition to this move expressed by both major parties in the Northern Territory and by the union involved. I ask whether, given the increase in traffic last week occasioned by the industrial situation in New South Wales, the Minister will reconsider his decision He will be aware that the equipment and personnel provided under a category 7 rating could not handle an emergency such as might be associated with the use of Darwin as an alternative port for large aircraft.

The Minister for Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

Australia, as a member of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) endeavours, wherever practicable, to establish procedures and scales of facilities in accordance with the standards, recommended practices or guidelines laid down in the various ICAO Annexes. Accordingly, in respect of rescue and fire fighting services, my Department takes full cognisance of the guidelines set out in ICAO Annex 14 'Aerodromes' which, in providing guidance regarding categorisation of fire services at international airports, suggest that the category appropriate to the longest aircraft using an airport can be reduced by two levels if there is a wide range of difference between the types of aircraft that have to be combined to reach a total of 700 or more in the busiest quarter (it should be noted that, in considering planning for a fire service appropriate to an airport, only known or reliably predicted future movements are taken into account. Consideration is not given to unexpected increases in traffic caused by industrial disputes, etc. ).

This is the situation currently pertaining at Darwin Airport where it is necessary to consider the combined totals of B747s (Category 9), B707s, DC8s and B727s (Category 7), DC9s (Category 6) and F28s (Category 5) to achieve or better the guideline figure of 700.

Therefore, my Department's proposal to vary the categorisation of the rescue and fire fighting service at Darwin Airport, which I intend to proceed with, is completely in accordance with the ICAO guidelines and is adequate to meet any airport emergency at Darwin, given the numbers and types of aircraft currently using the airport.

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