Before we start back tracking through the murky, sinister back alleyways of insurance, connections and the self promotion of various individuals through their equally rapacious fellow travellers; there is, I believe a need to clear the remaining grime from the canvass; the top cover if you like. The surface of this canvas, much like cover on Dorian Gray ‘s portrait is used to mask the real horrors laying beneath.
Speaking of ‘horror stories’ for the serious researcher, in the PAIN library are the three latest independent reports into the Pel-Air matter, which clearly define some of the deeply hidden flaws, fault lines and problems which beset the Australian aviation industry. They are essential reading for any who care delve deeply into exactly why there is such an unholy mess. Mind you, getting that mess cleaned up has been an uncompleted task for the last quarter century. But, I digress.
It is widely believed that before Re-o-Cur Dolan, darling of the SMH lunch crowd and psychic researcher of the MH 370 tragedy, is allowed to slither off, clutching his golden parachute, fur lined jock strap and hand crafted golf ball warmers; there are some serious questions which must be answered. Should the answers to those questions be found ‘disingenuous’, then the civil and criminal matters raised within those questions must be addressed; in the national interest; further, those that were associated with those acts should be included in the investigation.
We need to step back in time; just a short way, to identify where and when the whole Pel-Air saga began. The ‘potted’ version starts with the Chief pilot, as was in 2008, in the short version the CASA supported ‘usurper’ was, willy nilly, to have the job. In order to achieve this the audit weapon was used, selectively to erode the incumbent – ‘things must change’ – and the short term Air Operators Certificate (AOC) issue ploy was dusted off and played. The incumbent demurred, got off the pot and the new bottom was plonked down on the still warm rim. Problem – the ‘new-bottom’ had NFI about how to set about doing an international, long range, jet operation, let alone developing policy and procedure to ‘fix’ the audit reported problems. No matter, as the problems were mostly artificially ‘enhanced’ they could be let slide and the ‘fleet manager’ (or some-such) was left to sort them out. Everyone forgot that the now FM, was, last week, the CP and smart enough to know that if little was done, the same ‘audit’ problems would, or could be aimed at the CASA glove puppet. Office politics, a nasty game, but no real harm done.
Then DJ decided to give his West-wind a swimming lesson.
Suddenly, office politics took on whole new, sinister meaning; someone’s arse was in a sling and the company reputation was heading down the pan at a hell of a rate. Oh oh. What’s to be done? Which brings us to the point of the ramble – what was done, who did it and why?.
It is, IMO a reasonable assumption that Sharp would want the whole thing hosed down, strapped, fed and back in it’s box with the minimum of fuss. This, of it’s self is an acceptable, honest request for a CEO to make of the regulator. What Sharp probably wasn’t aware of and didn’t realise was the unholy, artificial, fully CASA supported mess the operation was in, to begin with. It is, IMO also fair to say that had he realised it; something would have been done to fix the mess, properly, and sooner rather than later. A CEO playing for high stakes cannot afford to have the type of snake pit Pel Air was at the time; it’s counterproductive and, as demonstrated, ultimately detrimental and very expensive.
So the games began, CASA audit, parallel investigations, reports, more reports and enough Non Compliance Notices (NCN) to choke a horse. ATSB same-same; miles of paperwork. All for naught, the fix was in. But only certain, select Bankstown FOI knew where the real issues lay; their pet, hand reared CP had fluffed it, caught out by the ‘enhanced’, unattended audit ‘gotch-ya’s, raised by CASA used to nobble the previous CP. Followers of the Pel-Air ‘ducked up cover up’ will be aware of what happened next. Sharp only wanted expediency and closure; but, if the rest were horribly exposed to allegations of ‘skulduggery’, then every single method of Cover Your Arse (CYA) would be employed. There had to be some motivation for the terrible risks McComic, Chambers and his merry bunch took; CYA is as good a reason as any, and better than most.
This is however only where the questions start; just for fun, lets work backwards starting with what Dolan and Merdek would have allowed the TSBC to see related to Pel Air. Would the TSBC have seen the original honest ATSB and CASA reports; those which were denigrated and shuffled off to one side, the HF, operational and fatigue reports?. Would the TSBC have even been given the sanitised versions?. Were the TSBC given the opportunity to compare those with the original, honest reports?
Then there are questions of the ‘grape’ (Aye, there was a bunch of ’em) of the spirit, intent and rules of the infamous Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which beg to be answered.
Then there are questions about the pillage and rapine of the TSI Act, section 24, the ICAO Annex 13 and of those who willingly participated in the event, which desperately beg for answers; even if just to ‘eliminate’ the suspicion from our ongoing inquiry’, as they say..
Then there’s hiring by CASA of a protected species specimen, to further protect it from the cold winds of hard truth and responsibilities. Was it just that alone which needed shuffled paperwork and a scapegoat to enact? This stand alone raises more question than have been answered.
I, for one would like to see Anastasi, Campbell, Chambers, Farquharson, Grima, McCormick, White and Whickham from CASA, followed by ATSB Dolan, Walsh and Sangston, in front of a fully briefed Senate committee armed with the evidence of Watson, Hattley and several others. It remains very difficult, without detailed examination and answers to determine if there was a grotesque manipulation of the ‘safety system’ to suit a predetermined outcome; or not. I believe the Australian public who, in one way or another, spend hundreds of millions on aviation safety oversight and accident investigation deserve answers; the three government reports instigated due to the ditching of VH-NGA simply provide a staring point to determination of exactly WTF is going on.
Was Dolan simply a dumb Muppet? Removing him and allowing the rest to escape unscathed seems pointless; particularly as the notion that the TSBC was short changed and the Senate was lied to has not been fully eliminated. While those questions linger, no one, not with any certainty anyway, can assume that a repeat performance will not be given, the next time valuable safety information is; ostensibly used to protect individuals, deceive management and enhance two careers at the detriment of others. I’d bet the TSBC would be interested, maybe even the ICAO. Has independence has been curtailed, probity lost in the mists of obfuscation. Then, just to put a hat on the ensemble, the same crew will all be ringing the changes and laughing with relief, that Beaker; poor, mislead, misguided, willing Be-a-Cur, the used and abused Muppet, has taken a big one, for the team, that brought you Pel Air.
Simply Marvellous Horse-pooh puff piece was clearly not the answer, was it children. ‘Lest he peaches, someone asks. Well, that would warm the pot up a bit; but no chance. New horizons on offer from the Murky Machiavellian job search team, maybe even with Customs – then he can have tea and pasta with Lubby Loo, before she goes on holiday – perhaps in the Canadian spring. That aught to make SMH page three, at least.
What a mess Mr. Truss; what an absolutely disgraceful bloody mess you leave behind for others to clean up. But, be assured, the truth will out, one day. Where then will you hide and who will CYA then; not the Murky Machiavellian Merde crew, definitely not the Wabbits’ prize crew: that is for absolute certain sure. Bet the house on it – Oh, you have.
Aye, it’s a puzzle alright. As Sarcs would say – More to follow.