Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Pilot training, airline safety and the Transport Safety Investigation Amendment (Incident Reports) Bill 2010

CHAIR —I now welcome representatives from Swinburne University of Technology and the Oxford Aviation Academy. The Swinburne University of Technology has lodged submission No. 30 and Oxford Aviation Academy has lodged submission No. 29. Would you like to make any amendments or additions?

Prof. Beynon —No.

CHAIR —I invite you to make an opening statement.

Prof. Beynon —Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. We represent two organisations with some overlap in our pilot training activities, as I will explain. My colleague Mr Stephen Fankhauser leads the aviation discipline at Swinburne. I am the dean of the faculty in which aviation sits and, therefore, responsible for the program to the rest of the university. My other colleague here today is Mr Anthony Petteford, the managing director at the Oxford Aviation Academy, and a partner in the provision of pilot training. Mr Petteford will speak for himself in a moment, but I would firstly like to summarise the university’s position.

Swinburne is a dual-sector university providing both flying and non-flying programs in aviation, from TAFE courses to associate and bachelor programs, to postgraduate taught programs and to PhD research. We have been a leading provider of tertiary aviation programs since 1992. Undergraduate students are mostly school leavers, whereas many of our postgraduate students are working part time in industry. Although in cooperation with Oxford Aviation Academy we are delivering the Jetstar cadet pilot program and in the recent past the Qantas cadet pilot program as part of an associate degree, most of our pilot training programs are not focused on a particular airline. This enables our graduates to choose rather than to go into either general aviation or commercial airlines or, indeed, into management careers in airline or airport operations. The academic content, while tailored for a career in aviation, also serves our graduates well for a wider range of careers in the tradition of undergraduate education.

You have our submission before you. The key message that I would like to emphasise with regard to your inquiry is that in pilot training quantity is no substitute for quality, focus and relevance of training. We see our role as serving the community and we seek continuous improvement from both our programs and our pilots in response to both industry and student needs. We are focussed on ensuring the quality of our programs, including the pilot training provided by Oxford Aviation Academy, and always work to standards well above the licensing minimum required by CASA. Nevertheless, we would welcome a recommendation from this inquiry that the progression of trained pilots in the industry be tracked. We are preparing a research proposal to monitor the performance of recently trained pilots from a selection of pathways to enable a quantifiable comparison to be made. This would give the confidence to the industry about the training being given to new pilots.

I would now like to hand over to Mr Anthony Petteford, our colleague in pilot training who for us represents a trusted high quality global provider with experience well beyond the confines of Oxford’s relationship with Swinburne.

Mr Petteford —I thank the committee for the opportunity to be able to speak with you today. I would like to make three primary points, if I may, in my opening statement.

Firstly, ab initio cadet pilot programs have been designed and delivered worldwide for more than 50 years and they are by far the most common method of training our own pilots. These programs, by the way, are complementary to a parallel pathway of becoming an airline pilot through the general aviation experience, and that also includes the new multicrew pilots licence, of which we are the market leader, and I can comment on that if you are interested.

Essentially, cadet programs provide quality, relevance and the applicability of training to airline operations, as opposed to getting significant numbers of hours in single pilot flying. I can give you many examples of airline cadet programs we run for major flag carriers around the world. These pathways can live alongside each other and there can be various means of getting into an airline, but it has been quite clearly proven over the years that quality cadet programs, whilst requiring significantly fewer hours of flying experience than the GA pilot route, do enhance RPT operational safety as opposed to reducing it, as has been alleged by some correspondence.

Secondly, I would like to discourage you all emphatically from recommending that a commercial licensed pilot must have 1,500 hours of flying experience in general aviation before touching the controls of an RPT aircraft. Why do I say that? Simply put, not all general aviation experience is relevant to RPT operations and in some instances it can generate unsafe attitudes and practices which are not conducive to the operation of RPT aeroplanes.

I would like to put another argument as well. Given the relatively small size of GA in Australia, the industry cannot simply support the number of opportunities that will be necessary for these pilots to even gain the 1,500 hours. So what would happen? You would have a severe shortage of well trained airline pilots in Australia, the airline growth and your economy would be threatened, and inevitably the airlines will go overseas, turn to foreign pilots of potential dubious quality and take airline jobs which should be going to Australians.

Thirdly, I encourage you to do something, which is to consider recommending to CASA an alternative—an extremely quick and easy change to their regulations—which would achieve far more than the 1,500 hour rule proposed. All CASA has to do is to mandate that all pilots who wish to fly aircraft and RPT operations, complete a two- to three-week course in multicrew operations and crew resource management using both the turbine simulator and a classroom environment, before they embark on their initial type endorsement training. Not only does this course provide pilots with highly relevant skills for our RPT operations; it also enables the pilots to gain far more relevance and value from the type endorsement course itself. These skills will then form the core foundation in which new airline pilots will both build and grow their team-working skills, which are absolutely essential in stressful emergency situations during which human beings have a tendency to revert to the law of primacy, which is a critical factor in RPT operations.

I would like to make one final statement. It is a tragic fact that more airline accidents occur due to lack of crew cooperation or failure to adhere to standard operating procedures in perfectly serviceable aeroplanes than any other cause or factor put together. If you improve the ability of these crews to communicate, adhere to standard operating procedures in highly automated environments, CASA would overnight improve flight safety within RPT operations. This has happened in Europe now for 12 years and it has already achieved a significant improvement in safety.

Senator XENOPHON —You are going too fast for me. How are you saying it would dramatically improve things?

Mr Petteford —There are two fundamental failings that occur in RPT operations in serviceable aeroplanes. The crew do not talk to each other, they carry out actions independently of each other, and their inability to talk to each other and to follow SOPs has created the accident. It is a perfectly serviceable aeroplane.

Senator XENOPHON —We will ask you specific questions, but how do you fix that?

Mr Petteford —Before they can even go on a type endorsement course for RPT operations, they must be trained in the skills of multicrew cooperation and crew resource management. That is why it was brought in 12 years ago in Europe. It was to solve the very problem that you are experiencing. It is not 1,500 hours. Train them on how to talk to each other, how to communicate together and follow SOPs in an emergency scenario or in any scenario.

By way of a closing comment about me, as you know, I am the MD of Oxford. I am, however, qualified on both the Airbus and the Boeing aeroplane. I have been interested in your comments about people flying different types. I am also a flight instructor and therefore I feel qualified to make informed comment at this committee. Thank you for your time.

CHAIR —Thank you. We have taken evidence of a cadet graduate in the right-hand seat and an old hand in the left-hand seat. The old hand might be like me, pretty grumpy.

Senator NASH —There is no-one like you.

CHAIR —No-one is quite as grumpy as me. So, there is this lack of interaction where the cadet thinks that he is not going to talk to that old grumpy bugger and, ‘What is he doing?’ He might be about to crash the plane, like the Lockhart River accident. I was told in the last week about a similar situation where the right-hand seat had a blue with the left-hand seat on the deck, as it were. It was not a physical blue, obviously, but they were coming in to land and the right-hand seat noticed on approach to round-out that the gear was not down. The left-hand seat said, ‘We won’t go around, we’ll just put the gear down’ and the junior in the right-hand seat said, ‘No, we won’t’, and gave it the full thrust and they went round. That lack of cooperation is what you were talking about.

Mr Petteford —It is, absolutely. Standard operating procedure is that at 1,000 feet you do the check for our stable approach criteria—gear down, correct configuration, correct speed and centre line glide slope. That is the check that they should have made through an SOP, and at that point the decision should have been made if the aeroplane was not correctly configured. The aeroplane clearly was unstable at 3,800 feet, as you described. What the first officer did was absolutely correct. The aeroplane was not in a stable configuration and the only possible decision, according to SOPs, is a go-around. The captain was wrong in that scenario. The first officer was correct. The SOPs have to force the crew to behave this way. If they had stuck to the SOPs they would never have had the problem in the first place because they would have identified the gear three miles back. You have to teach them to do that. They absolutely need to be taught that right at the beginning. That is the key to solving the safety issue.

CHAIR —I guess it needs to feed into the system far enough where you mingle with the trainees and cadets at the Rex things where they all knock around together. I presume they do not have some sort of pecking order where one lot does not talk to the other. You can have this snob value in the system, which you really need to do away with. You cannot have anyone thinking, ‘It’s beneath my dignity to talk to the bloke in the right-hand seat.’

Mr Petteford —Not in the slightest. I have to say that in modern airline operations that is very much a thing of the past. It is very rare to have authority gradients, but when they do occur they are lethal. There has to be communication and that is what you have to train for at the beginning. If you get that right then you do not need 1,500 hours.

Senator XENOPHON —Thank you for your submission and your evidence. Mr Petteford, I would like to go to the multicrew pilots licence. They are not used in Australia, are they? It is not something that is commonplace in Australia?

Mr Petteford —No. The multicrew pilots licence is relatively new as a regulatory system. CASA does, in fact, have a set of regulations under ICAO and XI which requires them to provide a solution for MPL. There has been a trial through Alteon where the students receive their core skills in Australia before moving on to the balance of their MPL training outside Australia. That has occurred. In terms of CASA having issued a multicrew pilots licence, that has not yet occurred, no.

Senator XENOPHON —So, you cannot fly a plane in Australia with a multicrew pilots licence from overseas?

Mr Petteford —Yes, you can. For example, if someone was flying from the UK using an MPL, the regulations of that country and the aeroplane that is registered in that country—

Senator XENOPHON —So, if the aeroplane is registered in Australia, you cannot fly?

Mr Petteford —No. If CASA had issued one, but they have not issued one yet, so it is not happening at the moment.

Senator XENOPHON —So currently, if it is an Australian registered aircraft, you cannot fly with an MPL?

Mr Petteford —Yes, you can. The regs exist, but no licence has been issued by CASA.

Senator XENOPHON —So, there is a distinction in that the framework is there but the next step is for a licence to be issued and that has not occurred yet?

Mr Petteford —Correct. The first one has to run.

Senator XENOPHON —Can you just explain this to me. With an MPL can you be in the cockpit without actually having to do any real flying or only having a limited number of hours?

Mr Petteford —The MPL is split into four sections. The first section, which is called the core skills phase, is where you are taught to fly in a real aircraft. There are fewer hours. For our MPL course the number of hours is 85 in a real aircraft.

Senator XENOPHON —What about overseas?

Mr Petteford —It varies, depending on the regulatory body and the approval they grant.

Senator XENOPHON —What is the lowest that you are aware of for an MPL?

Mr Petteford —On an MPL it is 60 hours of core skills. There are 11 schools that are operating MPL training and the lowest approved course I have seen is 60 hours.

Senator XENOPHON —It is not any lower than that?

Mr Petteford —No. I have not seen one lower than that.

Senator XENOPHON —So you can be in the cockpit with as little as 60 hours training in some jurisdictions?

Mr Petteford —Sixty hours off-flight in real aircraft. I hasten to add that at the end of the MPL you have to do 12 circuits in the real airliner. You go back into a real aircraft at the conclusion of the course and you have to fly those landings to competence.

CHAIR —Is it still 30 hours before you can fly solo?

Mr Petteford —I am sorry; there are 30 hours and two flight—

CHAIR —You are talking about 60 hours. I might be misinterpreting this, but surely you would have to have a pilot’s licence before you got to 60 hours?

Senator XENOPHON —No. The MPL is a licence in itself. The course is made up of typically anywhere between 240 and 300 hours, of which the number of core skills flying hours in a real aircraft can vary depending on the approved course.

CHAIR —If I went to Bankstown or somewhere, would it still be 30 hours with 20 hours of solo and then you get a private pilot’s licence?

Mr Petteford —No PPL issued on it at all. It is just a structured course based on competencies. There are no intermediate licences issued in any shape or form. You do not get anything until the whole course is completed and then you get the MPL. That is the way it works.

CHAIR —So you have never flown solo?

Mr Petteford —Yes, you have. Fifteen hours is the minimum number of hours of solo flight. All that has been removed from the course, in terms of real small aircraft flying, is the solo flight. The solo flight has been reduced, but the dual flying is pretty similar.

Senator XENOPHON —In terms of the costs involved for an MPL licence compared with a traditional licence, is it much cheaper?

Mr Petteford —No, it is pretty similar. By the time you take all of the phases together and the aircraft base training, the 12 circuits—bearing in mind in Australia there is no requirement for base aircraft, where the MPL does require 12—it is about the same.

Senator XENOPHON —What is the take-up of MPL internationally?

Mr Petteford —There are 11 schools. We have three airlines with whom we work on MPL, which are all on turbine aeroplanes, obviously—Airbus and the Q400. It is still relatively small. Lufthansa, for example, has gone 100 per cent MPL now. All of their pilots are going through MPL training. Some of the major carriers are going partially through MPL training. It is still in its infancy.

Senator XENOPHON —Some pilots who have gone through the traditional method of training are concerned that they will be sitting in an aircraft in the right-hand seat with someone who has not had much flying experience. How do you respond to that criticism?

Mr Petteford —It depends what you mean by ‘flying experience’, and if they received very comprehensive airline pilot training. There has just been a reduction in the number of flying hours in a small light GA aircraft. The reason the MPL is so valuable is it is being substituted by significant training in multipilot activity. That is the difference. The synthetic trainers and the simulators that we use are providing much more relevant training.

Senator XENOPHON —On your concerns about pilots being able to talk to each other and instances where things have gone wrong in terms of communication, I think there was a Korean Airlines issue. Well, I will not go into the particular airline.

Mr Petteford —There were many instances.

Senator XENOPHON —Korean Airlines had a cultural issue about seniority and the way pilots spoke to each other, which is quite interesting.

Mr Petteford —That is correct.

Senator XENOPHON —There is an issue there. Why can you not use the traditional approach to enhance the communication skills between those on the flight deck without going down the MPL path?

Mr Petteford —You can, absolutely. That is what I am advocating. You are saying it is irrespective. The MPL is, in my view because we do it, an invaluable way and an appropriate way of training airline pilots. If you follow the traditional path you have to improve upon it and you have to build in from a much earlier stage the multipilot skills that are necessary before they then joint RPT operations, and that is the missing piece. That is the thing that needs to be sorted. You can take a traditional path, a GA path, a cadet path, but you need to have that bit in it.

Senator XENOPHON —Are you suggesting that the current levels of training or regulations relating to that communication in the cockpit need to be enhanced?

Mr Petteford —Yes, I am.

Senator XENOPHON —Is that something that CASA ought to be regulating to effect that?

Mr Petteford —Yes, it should.

Senator XENOPHON —That is clear. In relation to giving some legislative immunity for pilots in terms of reporting incidents, as has been proposed in the bill I put up, what is your view on that? Would it be useful to have some legislative framework and protections for pilots in terms of giving them immunity for reporting incidents?

Mr Petteford —If an airline has got its culture right all that immunity will do is simply underline what already exists.

Senator XENOPHON —So it would not do any harm, but it would give a benchmark?

Mr Petteford —Absolutely. It would do no harm whatsoever.

Senator XENOPHON —We heard some evidence earlier, in terms of some training of captains or pilots in simulators, that they are rated for the A320 but they have not flown the A320. They might have been trained up in Boeings. I think that there is quite a difference in the way that they operate. They still fly, but they are quite different.

Mr Petteford —I have flown both types. I have flown a traditional Boeing and I have flown a—

Senator XENOPHON —I noticed your experience.

Mr Petteford —I would say, no, an airliner these days is laid out in pretty standard chunks. You have your systems overhead, your auto pilot, flight control panel, primary flight instruments and communications. The difference between the Boeing and the Airbus is that the Airbus’s stick is there. The 777 is a fly-by-wire aeroplane. You can pretty much go from one to the other.

Senator XENOPHON —So you are not concerned that a trainer has not flown that aircraft type when they are training cadets?

Mr Petteford —No. Provided they are experienced airline pilots, then I am not concerned about that.

Senator XENOPHON —Does Oxford Aviation provide an advanced cadetship?

Mr Petteford —Yes, we do.

Senator XENOPHON —How does that work compared to an ordinary cadetship?

Mr Petteford —Ordinary cadetship—ab initio we provide every single component of training all the way through to type endorsement, if the airline requires us to provide it. Many airlines still provide their own endorsements, so we take them up to the licence issue stage, including, I hasten to add, an MCC course. We do MCC courses irrespective of whether it is regulated or otherwise. Professor Beynon and his students have an MCC course built into their new design. We do it as standard because we believe in it so much.

Senator XENOPHON —And the advance cadetship?

Mr Petteford —It takes those who already have a licence issued by CASA but from another school. We standardise them. We put them through an MCC course again. We then put them into a standardised form into the type endorsement and then they go on to the airline with exactly the same set of training as a cadet would get, so they bring them all to a common standard.

CHAIR —Where did you get your licence?

Mr Petteford —In the UK.

CHAIR —Was it out of the air force or somewhere else?

Mr Petteford —It was out of the civilian world, yes, through a cadet style program.

Senator XENOPHON —We heard Mr Joyce from Qantas say that there is really no difference. I think it is fair to say—and I am sure Senator O’Brien will correct me if I am wrong—that he was effectively saying that there is the same high standard whether it is in-house or whether it is done through third parties. Would you agree with that? In terms of whether you have been trained in-house at Qantas or through your school or other schools you do not see any difference in the quality?

Mr Petteford —As a general rule I would not support that statement. The key for third-party training providers to get it right is for the third-party training provider and the airline to work in partnership. Our relationship with Jetstar, for example, our training teams, in order to join the airline, physically flew with the airline training and actually gained a thorough understanding.

CHAIR —To get the culture?

Mr Petteford —Although the culture, I would have to say, was not that different. It was fundamentally to understand the standard operating procedures and the way in which the airline wants things to be delivered, and so therefore it has to be a true partnership. If you simply give your type endorsement training to a third party, without having created any bonds then that is a recipe for disaster. You have to work in partnership.

CHAIR —I presume some of that relies on the level of blokes like yourself in the university course being where you are. I think you would have probably failed me. It is a bit like the cook in the kitchen. Whatever the institution is, you are only as good as the people who are cooking the brew.

Mr Petteford —That is without any doubt. You cannot just make a general rule across it. There are different providers, different qualities and different attitudes.

Senator XENOPHON —I have a couple more questions also to Mr Fankhauser and Professor Beynon. If you have any particular views about the proposed amendment in terms of the immunity, I would value that. You can put that on notice. If you think it is rubbish you can say so. I would appreciate your views on that as to whether you think it ought to be amended. Again, you can take that on notice, because that is obviously something that is going to be considered in the context of this report. If you have any views—critical, supportive or whatever—or if it could be improved in terms of entrenching or giving some legislative protection to immunity so that among pilots the just culture would be valued. Again—and this question is to any of the witnesses—there is a proposed Civil Aviation Safety Regulation part 142 for training and checking operators that would define the responsibilities of the training provider and their relationship with the AOC holder. That seems to have been a long time coming, and I think we are still waiting for that. Our previous witness has said that there are some drafting issues there, but it has been going on for quite some time. It was a recommendation made in February of last year in relation to the Jetstar incident on 21 July 2007. Do any of you have a view in relation to that about the proposed regulation 142?

Mr Fankhauser —I would support Mr Petteford’s position with regard to the immunity; that culture should exist anyway and, therefore, it cannot do any harm. Of course the university supports the just culture with students and we have an open relationship with them. We would support it.

Senator XENOPHON —In relation to part 142, which defines the relationship between the training provider and the AOC holder, do you have a view on that?

Mr Petteford —I do. If I may, just to hammer on this point of immunity, I do not think it gives carte blanche for pilots to do and behave in any way that they like and hope that immunity will—

Senator XENOPHON —I do not think anyone is suggesting that, but I am glad you qualified that.

Mr Petteford —That is really important. They have to behave legitimately and professionally and follow the procedures.

Senator XENOPHON —That should be the case.

Mr Petteford —Absolutely. In terms of a training provider linked into an airline, the quality systems should achieve that. For example, under the European regulations, it is a requirement that where you are working with an AOC holder of multipilot operations, the quality systems must harmonise together, and so there has to be an oversight by one of the quality systems, whether it is from the AOC or the training provider overseeing the airline quality system. The quality system dovetails it together and that is the way it works. That is the foundation on which the 142 concept comes about. It is the mutually working together, which should be through the safety management and the quality management systems. That is the way you achieve it.

Senator XENOPHON —Do you have any knowledge of when 142 is likely to come into operation?

Mr Petteford —I do not.

Senator XENOPHON —Does CASA speak to you about these issues?

Mr Fankhauser —No, except through the notice of proposed rule making.

Senator XENOPHON —So you have an opportunity to feed back?

Mr Fankhauser —That is correct.

Senator XENOPHON —Thank you.

CHAIR —I would like to go back to the 12 circuits. Can you tell me what sort of circuit that is? Is it a normal circuit?

Mr Petteford —It is absolutely the same as if you were flying a light aircraft, but bigger and it has to be done under very strict control conditions. Again, it is restricted to SOPs, because you are actually doing something in an airliner—and an empty airliner at that, which has a lot of excess thrust. It has to be flown with base training captains who have been trained in this type of activity.

CHAIR —Do you do that by going out for two hours where you do 12 circuits or do you do it over a period of weather conditions?

Mr Petteford —Before you go and do it you would do pre base training in the simulator—all the procedures you are going to follow, because you are not going to have the same configuration. The aeroplane is configured differently for base training. You do a pre base activity for the students totally familiar with the SOPs and then literally, yes. But you would not do 12 circuits in one go; it is too much. You would get exhausted and it gets dangerous. We would typically split it up into two sessions. It can happen in IFR or VFR so long as clearly you can make a safe landing from it.

Senator O’BRIEN —I would like to ask some questions about Swinburne University. Presumably you take students who are not part of a cadet program?

Prof. Beynon —Yes, we do.

Senator O’BRIEN —Can you explain what sort of cost structure those students would face, what they would have to find out of their own pockets with loans or whatever, and what is paid for with HECS?

Mr Fankhauser —Yes, I can do that. Most of our students that come into Swinburne flying training would come in through our bachelor degree program, which is a three-year program. They would incur about $7,000 a year in HECS fees, which covers the academic part of the program. Similar to UNSW, the flying training is broken up into practicum units, and the cost for that is currently just under $80,000 up to commercial pilot licence, and then they may go on and do an endorsement in turbine aircraft or do an instructor rating. As Mr Petteford has just mentioned, we will be moving towards a syllabus in which multicrew training is a mandatory part. However, the practicum part of the flying training is covered by FEE-HELP. You have had a few responses here today with respect to FEE-HELP. We have a graduate certificate program to enable students to access FEE-HELP. The FEE-HELP loan limit is about $86,000. Typically a student would have to find up front through the course of their three-year program the $21,000 in HECS fees and $10,000 to $15,000 for the flying training, and then of course have the FEE-HELP loan.

I would like to bring up a point from the Sharp Airlines submission, where it was mentioned that RTOs were not having access to VET FEE-HELP. We put in a submission to the government aviation issues paper that went on to become the white paper, and part of the issue is that the commercial licence under the training framework is a certificate IV. VET FEE-HELP is not eligible for certificate IV. It is not just a matter of saying that universities are only giving this; it is a structure with the national qualifications framework that has actually led to that situation, and our submission has sought to address that for the industry across all RTOs.

Senator O’BRIEN —By doing what?

Mr Fankhauser —I think that DEEWR is the controlling authority with regard to FEE-HELP, in setting that requirement that it is for diplomas and above. You need to obviously be talking to the training authority that has accredited a commercial licence as a certificate IV.

Senator O’BRIEN —That raises a whole range of questions that DEEWR might want to address, such as how you do it just for aviation and not for others.

Mr Fankhauser —That is right. Also, when you look at the FEE-HELP loan limit, there is a higher loan limit if you were doing, for example, veterinary science and medicine. In my belief, the loan limit is not adequate for aviation training.

Senator O’BRIEN —Mr Petteford, how do training costs in Australia compare with those in Europe, for example, or other parts of the world such as you feel capable to answer?

Mr Petteford —On the basis of the current exchange rate, it is a pretty similar level.

Senator O’BRIEN —In English pounds to Euros it is less, but when you factor in the exchange rates—

CHAIR —Is that sterling or Euros?

Mr Petteford —We deal in sterling in the UK. Leaving aside the type endorsement component, a student will spend about 85,000 sterling, and here we would charge just under A$100,000.

CHAIR —You are lucky you still have sterling.

Mr Petteford —Yes, we are.

CHAIR —I think the rest of it is going to fall apart.

Mr Petteford —Yes, I agree.

Senator O’BRIEN —That is funny. We had a number of members of other parliaments of Europe who would fundamentally disagree.

CHAIR —This week?

Senator O’BRIEN —Yes, this week.

CHAIR —I had a private discussion with two or three of the northern Europeans. They were very much of the view that it was buggered.

Senator O’BRIEN —Should I draw from that there is no advantage in training overseas? From the point of view of an Australian airline, would the costs be about the same here as elsewhere?

Mr Petteford —No, I do not see that with the infrastructure that lives within Australia and the cost activities. Unless that person wanted to gain an overseas licence, in order that they could work overseas, then there may be advantages. If you gain a European licence you can work in any one of the European licensing systems. There would be an advantage if they wanted mobility of labour. Otherwise, if they wanted to fly an Australian registered aeroplane, they should do it in Australia, where the cost is acceptable.

Senator O’BRIEN —Professor Beynon, what is the student number capacity of your course? Mr Fankhauser, is it regularly filled?

Prof. Beynon —Yes, it is. The capacity that we have for the taught programs at the university is much higher than for the pilot training, so we limit it according to the capacity of the training providers to provide the places. We train the students in an integrated manner throughout the program, so they are doing classes on campus and training at the airport.

Senator O’BRIEN —What sort of numbers are we talking about?

Prof. Beynon —For TAFE it is 40 and for our undergraduate degree it is 256 in total at the moment.

Senator O’BRIEN —Has that changed considerably?

Prof. Beynon —It increased over the last couple of years, but it is fairly stable at the moment.

Senator O’BRIEN —So 40 is what number?

Prof. Beynon —That is the number of TAFE students on courses, so it is 300 from the university as a whole.

Senator O’BRIEN —Is that how many qualified people who are likely to be flying would come out of your course, or would it be a lesser number?

Prof. Beynon —Or how many would actually stay the course in the flying training?

Senator O’BRIEN —Yes.

Prof. Beynon —We would probably lose about 15 per cent off the training program, but in our case they can transfer to the non-flying programs and would then go into aviation management, flight operations and so on.

Senator O’BRIEN —Do you track the career destinations of your students?

Prof. Beynon —As best we can. They have no obligation to tell the university.

Senator O’BRIEN —What can you tell us about that?

Mr Fankhauser —I cannot speak on behalf of the airlines, because I do not have access to their human resource records, but I know that if you get on a Qantas domestic flight that is crewed by a Melbourne crew it is likely to have a Swinburne first officer. They have been very successful over the years.

Senator O’BRIEN —Where else do they go?

Mr Fankhauser —Virgin and Tiger. We train international students in smaller numbers that seek careers overseas, but predominantly any major airline or regional airline in Australia will have seen Swinburne graduates going through.

Senator O’BRIEN —So they are widely spread?

Mr Fankhauser —Yes, they are.

Senator O’BRIEN —I was trying to find out whether they were just going to the major airlines.

Mr Fankhauser —No, they are widely spread. We have had quite a number of graduates go to Cathay Pacific.

Senator O’BRIEN —How many do not end up as commercial pilots after undergoing the course? What portion would that be?

Mr Fankhauser —Again, from Professor Beynon’s answer, it is difficult for us to have exact statistics because we do not have a way of tracking it. Our anecdotal experience is that well above 60 per cent have careers in aviation as pilots.

Senator O’BRIEN —Thank you.

CHAIR —What does it cost the student to do one of your jobs?

Mr Fankhauser —To go through a bachelor degree and to be qualified would be $110,000.

CHAIR —How much does it cost the government?

Mr Fankhauser —In the long term they pay the loan back—we hope—but their FEE-HELP loan limit, as it currently stands, is $86,000.

CHAIR —What about HECS?

Mr Fankhauser —The students contributes to HECS. The other part of it comes from the Commonwealth grant scheme to the university as a lump sum for the teaching load.

CHAIR —Is that a marketing edge over somewhere else where the HECS does not work?

Mr Fankhauser —Naturally it would be. However, apart from being a marketing edge, it provides access or equity of access into being a career, as opposed to being—

CHAIR —I know. There is no question about that.

Mr Fankhauser —That was our motivation, because we want to try to provide opportunities to anyone who is capable.

Senator McGAURAN —So it is not a—

CHAIR —It is.

Mr Fankhauser —It is a mixture of HECS and FEE-HELP. The associate degree program that the Jetstar cadets are going through is a full fee program only with no HECS.

Senator McGAURAN —I wanted some clarification on the multicrew pilots licence. Did you say that at the end of the day the training for this licence only has a 30-hour reduction in real flying time or in-the-air flying time? Is that what you said—that there was not much of a reduction anyway?

Mr Petteford —The reduction is the solo flight. In fact, depending on the course design, it is anywhere between 40 and 50 hours of solo flight reduction, but the dual instruction is pretty similar. It is the actual reduction in solo flight, and depending again on the course design, whether there is any multi-engine piston content or not. All of our courses have multi-engine piston included, but there is no mandatory requirement for it.

Senator McGAURAN —I have never seen so much keenness for this simulator, either from the trainers or the airline executives themselves, so I want to make sure that there is in-the-air experience. If you are going for this multicrew pilots licence, which we have training for in Australia but no licences, the real flying time, other than the slight reduction, as you would put it, of 40 hours of solo flying is identical to the parallel licence or whatever that is called?

Mr Petteford —In terms of the visual flight activity, yes. What is equivalent to the instrument rating endorsement is completed in the next phase, which is the simulator. In the basic phase of training they then become—

Senator McGAURAN —When you say visual they will go up in the air and just look. They will not fly.

Mr Petteford —They will fly.

Senator McGAURAN —Looking is not flying.

Mr Petteford —Yes, it is.

CHAIR —It is non-instrument.

Mr Petteford —They are not flying solely by reference to instruments. They are flying the aircraft and can basically look out the window to pick their visual latitudes and navigate.

Senator McGAURAN —I am not a great technocrat, but I do know the difference between a simulator and up in the air training. That is where I am trying to get to the difference. With respect, and correct me if I am wrong, now the trainers are telling us, ‘Let’s do most of it in the simulator.’ No doubt the executives are. I can see cost-benefit wise to both of them why that would be the case, but to ourselves and the public they would be a little more assured if the pilot did some up in the air training. You are assuring me now that would be the case under the multicrew pilots licence.

Mr Petteford —Absolutely, yes.

CHAIR —I think we will conclude there. We are grateful for your very strong evidence. Would it be possible to negotiate a discount on a course for Senator McGauran?

Senator McGAURAN —I only need to know the difference between simulator and up in the air.

CHAIR —You want to go and do it.

Senator XENOPHON —I have another question, because we have made up a bit of time today. With the issues of training schools—and I am not suggesting that it applies in any way to the work that any of you gentlemen are involved in—could there be a perception with some training schools that someone is paying you $100,000, so there is pressure or an expectation that somehow you get that person through the door with their accreditation and with their licence? How do you counter against that or how do you provide safeguards from unscrupulous operators who do not have the same standards that you do?

Mr Fankhauser —I can answer from the university perspective and then Mr Petteford can answer from Oxford’s perspective. As Professor Beynon mentioned in his introduction, we have a management degree program, so any student that either does not want to continue or does not have the skill set to be able to continue, we will transfer them, without penalty, into our aviation management degree. When we were doing the cadet training for Qantas—and it still stands for the Jetstar cadets—they go in under what is called an employer reserved place, but if they lose their employer reserved place we will take them on if they so wish in our degree program. We are not under pressure to keep them going from a revenue point of view. We have a transparent process in our practicum units, if they do not meet the required standard of what they need to go through, for either remedial training or to deem that they cannot continue because they do not have the necessary skill.

Senator XENOPHON —There are some operators who will get the fees and churn them out somehow.

Mr Petteford —What we see is a polarisation of the training industry into two distinct camps—the quality providers and those that are not of such a high quality. Allow me to describe how quality providers, such as ourselves, differentiate the quality and maintain the quality. Firstly, nobody is permitted to enrol upon any of our airline pilot courses ab initio or otherwise, unless they have been through an assessment. We put them through at least two days of pre-assessment—hand-eye coordination skills, team skills, attitudinal skills and motivational skills.

Senator XENOPHON —Just out of interest, what percentage would fail that assessment?

Mr Petteford —It depends on whether they are backed by an airline or otherwise. If an airline is supporting the program and willing to support them into employment at the end, then it is highly competitive and 95 per cent of them are rejected. If they were white tails, they don’t know who they are going to work for at the end, we are doing all of the selection initially and we reject 52 per cent of our applicants. During the program—and this is the bit that really makes the program the filter as well—we carry out a process of continuous assessment, of which four per cent of them fail. Our solution to the moral dilemma is if we terminate their training we give them all of their money back. That is it. They get a full money back guarantee.

Senator XENOPHON —That is not common practice in the industry, is it?

Mr Petteford —Not common practice, but it is in my company. We do that for every student.

Senator XENOPHON —That is very commendable, but if that were mandated, do you think that some of the lesser quality operators would get their act together because they would not take people on?

Mr Petteford —I suggest there would be a considerable change in dynamic within the industry, without doubt, but I do not think every provider could clearly provide that type of guarantee. Our biggest advocates are our graduates to these airlines. The quality of the output enhances our reputation and, of course, that is the virtuous circle. Moreover, it makes a safer airline world.

Senator XENOPHON —The fact is that you basically give them their money back for the balance of the course.

Mr Petteford —No, we give them their money back for the balance of the course and the training that they have already received. We have been doing that for the last eight years.

Senator XENOPHON —That is very good.

CHAIR —Does anyone do this for Virgin?

Mr Petteford —Does anyone provide a cadet program?

CHAIR —For Virgin?

Mr Petteford —Not at the moment.

CHAIR —Why do you think that is?

Mr Petteford —Hopefully they will change their view. I think they are enthusiastic. Mr Howell, who you saw earlier, is enthusiastic about it.

CHAIR —Thank you very much.

[2.15 pm]