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Thursday, 24 August 1972
Page: 390

Senator BISHOP - I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. Has his attention been drawn to the frequency of accidents involving light aircraft? Can the Minister or his departmental officers identify any common cause in such accidents? As the accident rate of light aircraft is considerably higher than that applying to heavier aircraft, is the Minister satisfied that the various maintenance, safety and training codes at present operating are satisfactory?

Senator COTTON -] do not have the figures with me, but 1 can get them for the honourable senator. There has been an improvement in the accident rate in the regular passenger transport field and the light aircraft field in the last 12 months. Nevertheless, one is always concerned about accidents, wherever they are, and equally I am concerned about the light aircraft situation. I always watch it very carefully. Every week I get a report on every incident that takes place throughout the field. Even small matters like damage to the underside of wings or fuselages are all reported and are subject to query and investigation. The Aviation Safety Digest' is issued to all licensed pilots in an attempt to improve flying safety performance. The Department cannot and I am unable to give a predictable pattern or to isolate any particular circumstance that would lead to an improvement in any disciplines that might be exerted. Most of the problems appear to be the product of what might be called human error, which is a very hard thing to control. We did begin and have carried out a course of training to improve understanding by talking to people about these things. We did quite a deal of seminar work in Papua New Guinea on this matter where the incidence of accidents had become higher than we cared for. I will get extra information for the honourable senator because I think it is valuable to raise in the Senate matters such as this. The fundamental reasons for there being so few accidents are good maintenance of aircraft and pilots taking appropriate precautions when they are flying aircraft, particularly light aircraft, as the flights made by light aircraft are somewhat removed from the normal inspection arrangements.

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