Title

Leaked report prepared by CASA auditors identifies deficiencies in the way major airlines are monitored.

Database

Electronic Media Monitoring Service 

Date

18-04-2001 05:21 PM

Source

Radio National

Parl No.

 

Channel Name

Radio National

Start

18-04-2001 05:21 PM

Abstract

PM

End

18-04-2001 06:23 PM

Cover date

2001-04-18 17:21:51

Citation Id

849377

Enrichment

 
Reporter

COLVIN, Mark

MCLEOD, Shane

Speaker

ANDERSON, John, (former Member)

FERGUSON, Martin, (former Member)

URL

Open Item 

Parent Program URL
Text online

No

Media Deleted

False

System Id

emms/emms/849377

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Leaked report prepared by CASA auditors identifies deficiencies in the way major airlines are monitored. -

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PM

Wednesday 18 April 2001



Leaked report prepared by CASA auditors identifies deficiencies in the way major airlines are monitored



COMPERE:First tonight to the battle of the skies, and Ansett has some small cause for relief this evening with CASA officially confirming that it may not issue the notice on Friday which could threaten the airline's right to operate. But with Ansett's 767s still anchored on the ground, CASA itself is under the gun tonight.



A damming report leaked in Canberra casts doubt on the ability of the nation's air safety regulator to do its job. The report was compiled by CASA's own internal audit branch. It identified deficiencies in the way CASA's monitored Australia's major airlines.



The report looks specifically at CASA's surveillance of Ansett in the wake of the grounding of its 767 fleet back in December last year. It found that CASA staff were working with stretched resources and that there were problems with documentation and record keeping. Says CASA could not even be sure that other Ansett planes weren't affected by the same problems that beset its 767 fleet.



The leaked CASA audit shows that there is a systemic problem within the organisation in its supervision of safety and maintenance. That's left airlines like Ansett to self-regulate safety. But as the industry sheds people and resources, the people actually doing the aircraft maintenance - the engineers - say their work is suffering. Many are required to work long shifts and excessive hours. How safe, then, is their work when fatigue sets in?



AIRCRAFT ENGINEER:Fatigue is a big problem on night shift.



COMPERE:What sort of problems do you think it leads to?



AIRCRAFT ENGINEER:Oh, you've … it is an erea of judgement but you've got to just sit down and think right, I'm tired - you know, what am I doing? And then you've just got to physically slow down and do a real mental double check of what you've done and anyone who's sort of been caught out once the next time says yeah, right, I've just got to be prepared for it.



COMPERE:That's an Ansett engineer who wants to remain anonymous. You'll hear more from him in a moment but first to the CASA internal audit, and as Shane McLeod reports it came to its conclusions even before the latest woes beset Ansett.



SHANE MCLEOD:Today was meant to be Ansett's day. The Chief Executive, Gary Toomey, made an 11th hour mission to Canberra to try to stave off CASA's threat to issue a 'show cause' notice as to why the embattled airline's operating licence shouldn't be cancelled. But Gary Toomey's meetings with the Transport Minister and CASA's Mick Toller were overshadowed by an internal CASA report which claimed substantial failings in the regulator's safety systems.



The report was released by the Opposition's Transport spokesman, Martin Ferguson.



MARTIN FERGUSON:When you look at this secret internal CASA document in association with a number of other reports of the audit office and in essence the difficulties of Ansett last Christmas, I believe that the Howard Government had sufficient warning that there were serious problems in aviation safety.



SHANE MCLEOD:The report was conducted by CASA's Quality and Internal Audit Branch. It was a review of the regulator's Melbourne airline's office and its surveillance of large airlines with a specific review of Ansett to find out if CASA was fully aware of any safety breaches or misapplied safety standards.



The report concluded the office had been doing the best job it could, but that the processes in place had failed to identify the maintenance problems that led to the grounding of Ansett's 767s at Christmas last year:



'It is reasonable to view this inability as something wrong with both Ansett's and CASA's systems. Something in need of fixing.'



And perhaps more ominously for CASA, the report warns that airlines aren't being checked to make sure they're complying with safety legislation:



'If the safety regulator does not have this information, the industry has already achieved self-regulation.'



Opposition Transport spokesman, Martin Ferguson, accuses Minister John Anderson of being asleep at the controls.



MARTIN FERGUSON:The time has come for the Prime Minister to accept that his Minister for Transport has no real interest in aviation safety.



The internal CASA document which has been suggested to us has been shredded in recent times clearly establishes that CASA wasn't even able to properly audit its own internal safety processes, let alone the performance of companies such as Ansett.



SHANE MCLEOD:The report suggests CASA's safety system was not properly documented or developed and that staff were hampered by stretched resources. It follows warnings from the nation's air safety investigator, the Transport Safety Bureau, that CASA should take a more active role in making sure aircraft safety bulletins are acted upon.



While CASA is a statutory body at arm's length from the government the Transport Minister, John Anderson, is charged with overseeing its functions. It's understood there's some concern within the Prime Minister's office over the level of ministerial scrutiny of the aviation regulator.



John Anderson has down-played the significance of the audit report and defended CASA's performance.



JOHN ANDERSON:CASA itself is going through a process of continual self examination seeking to improve its performance which is what the government expects of it. Now that report, which is claimed to be somehow secret but of course is a draft and it's got notes written all over it - it's been sent back as inadequate, and that ought to be noticed, and lacking in professionalism, to be redone within the organisation - will be considered by management. Management has a responsibility to ensure that it is meeting its targets and the press release that we'll hand out in a moment will indicate that we are not only increasing resourcing to CASA, they're taking on more staff, but in the context of the current budgetary circumstances I'm considering further requests.



COMPERE:The Federal Transport Minister John Anderson ending Shane McLeod's report.