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Thursday, 25 May 1972
Page: 2160


Senator WRIEDT (TASMANIA) asked the Minister

Civil Aviation, upon notice:

(1)   In what operational respects did the scheduled passenger services, which were conducted by Jetairlines of Australia in accordance with a published timetable under instrument flight rules and using aircraft over 12,500 lb gross weight, differ from other Australian regular public transport air services.

(2)   In respect of the proficiency standards of Jetair pilots:

(a)   Who was responsible for the formulation and maintenance of the standards.

(b)   What records were kept on each individual pilot's proficiency during his term of employment with the Company and

(c)   Are these records available. If so, from whom are these records available.

(3)   By what explicit or implicit legal sanction was the Director-General of Civil Aviation ever empowered to refuse to consider applications for airline transport pilot licences on their individual merits, when Air Navigation Regulation 66 (1) makes provision for such a consideration, either by way of reciprocal recognition of a foreign licence for the grant of an Australian equivalent, or by requiring an applicant who is in possession of a foreign licence to demonstrate his practical and/or theoretical abilities at the appropriate standard prior to the grant of an Australian licence.

(4)   Why was it ever necessary for an applicant, such as the one in 3, if he could meet the experience, medical and character criteria for the grant of an airline transport pilot licence, which are explicit in the Regulations, to be employed by an Australian airline before he would be permitted to attempt the flight proficiency test at that standard when numerous Examiners of Airmen are employed by the Department of Civil Aviation at taxpayer's expense, for the sole purpose of assessing an applicant's suitability for the grant of a licence, quite independently of the Australian airines.

(5)   Under what specific Act or Regulation was the Department of Civil Aviation or its officials ever empowered to place Australian pilots at a disadvantage by refusingto invoke the provisions of Air Navigation Regulations 66 (1), in good faith, when such pilots were seeking to compete for positions with overseas operators, either by choice, or because no suitable employment existed in the Australian airline industry.

Senator COTTON:The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1)   As a holder of a charter licence, Jetair Australia Limited operated DC3 aircraft on regular public transport services under the authority of an exemption granted in accordance with the provisions of Air Navigation Regulation 203 which states:

The Director-General may, if he considers that the particular circumstances of the case to warrant, exempt a person who holds a charter licence and who proposes to operate a service which would constitute a regular public transport service from the necessity of obtaining an airline licence, and may approve of the operation of the service for such a period and, subject to such conditions as the Director-General considers necessary.

The operational standards for Jetair operations did not differ from those specified for other operators in this category apart from certain additional ariworthiness and aircraft performance requirements related to the DC3 aircraft, which was the type operated by Jetair. The standards prescribed for regular public transport services, operating in accordance with an exemption granted under Air Navigation Regulation 203, using light twin engined aircraft below 12,500 lb maximum take-off weight are slightly lower than those which are required for the DC3 aircraft. On the other hand, regular public transport services operated under the authority of an airline licence and employing aircraft over 12,500 lb maximum take-off weight are required to meet higher standards.

(2)   (a) The Director-General, acting in accordance with the provisions of Air Navigation Regulation 203, has prescribed pilot standards for this category of operation, the Company training and checking organisation, required by Air Navigation Regulation 214 and approved by the DirectorGeneral, was responsible for the maintenance of those standards.

(b)   Records of the 6 monthly flight proficiency checks required by Air Navigation Regulation 214, which were conducted by Company check pilots approved by the Department, were kept by the Jetair training and checking organisation. Individual licences were issued or renewed by the Department, on receipt of a certificate from Jetair that a flight proficiency check had been successfully completed.

(c)   It is not known whether the Company's flight proficiency check records are still in existence or from whom this information could now be obtained.

(3)   Air Navigation Regulation 66(1) empowers the Director-General to grant an Australian licence or certificate to a person subjectto such conditions and limitations as he thinks fit. Prior to1966 one of these conditions, in respect of the issue of an airline transport pilot licence, was that the applicant should be employed by an Australian airline.

(4)   Priorto the period 1966-1968, employment by an airline was required in order to ensure that pilots wore properly trained in the actual airline environment. The high standard of pilot proficiency required for airline operation was directly related to licence issue.

The needto make provision for the issue of the licence to pilots other than those employed by an airline did not arise as no applications were received up to that time.

Since late1966, a number of applications for the reciprocal recognition of airline transport pilot licences issued by other countries and for the initial issue of airline transport pilot licences to Australian pilots who were seeking positions overseas but were not employed by Australian airlines, have been received. Departmental policy was reviewed duringthe period1967-1968 and finally varied to permit the' issue of the licence to these pilots. Action is being taken to have the requirement to be employed by an airline, deleted from the Air Navigation Orders. At the same time, airline transport pilot licence standards are being varied to more closely align them with the basic standard required by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The need to maintain high standards of proficiency in actual airline operations will be ensured by a separate requirement that airline training and checking organisations provide the necessary training additional to that applicable to the basic licence.

Examiners of Airmen have conducted flight proficiency tests for applicants who are not employed by airlines but this is only one segment of their duties. They are also required to supervise airline training and checking organisations and to check the conduct of day to day airline operations. Their principal function in relation to flight proficiency checking is to examine and approve the Company check pilots to conduct flight proficiency tests on behalf of the Department for the issue and renewal of airline transport pilot licences.

(5)   The Department of Civil Aviation has not refusedto invoke the provisions of Air Naviga tion Regulation 66(1). The change of policy mentioned in the previous answer has resulted from the consideration of applications in accordance with the provisions of that Regulation.







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