An evening with TOM.– AP Forum version.
It was the dogs that knew first; they always do – we were ambling home in that quiet time between beer o’ clock and dinner, a quick, happy bark; and, off they went. Unconcerned and slightly distracted, I followed along at a more sedate pace until I found them at the new park bench, on which, comfortably ensconced was P7_TOM (The Old Man), his feet on a medium sized ‘Esky’. The dogs were already settled so it was safe to assume he had come to talk. Wrong. “Talk to me” says he; perceptive old sod knows me well; I did indeed need a sounding board. He’d brought Guinness and a proper glass, poured one out for me, we sat in silence and watched the small miracle of the bubbles creating the head; lovely. “Patience, persistence and performance” we drank a silent toast; then, “say it in one word” he muttered. That made it my turn, I knew he’d say no more until I coughed up the lump I was choking on. The one word challenge is no easy puzzle – given the options available. A lot of words ran through my wooden head – disappointed, disgusted, dismayed, disheartened, confused, confounded, furious; etc. It took a moment to decide that no one word could cover my disbelief of what I was actually witnessing; nor my contempt for those committing the acts; and, my stunned amazement that the Australian public not only tolerate it – but pay billions to let it all happen.
The silence lasted through until the second Guinness had settled. The dogs heard the ‘dinner time’ whistle, looked askance, got the nod and headed off to eat. “Disconnection” says I. “That’ll do for a start” say’s TOM, “now construe, a for instance, in a nutshell”.
Ref: 29 November 2014 http://www.reducedmobility.eu/2014112854…lying.html
The Essendon debacle and the Angel Flight thing. The notion of holistic ‘safety’ and the best interests of the public and industry. CASA have spent a good deal of time (and by extension money) on the current Angel Flight How de Do. Ostensibly, related to their great concern for the safety of those folk who need transport to medical treatment. A real safety case which needs the not only the minister’s support, but the Chair of the CASA board must be dragged out of whichever cat-house or opium den he was hiding in to support this great quest for public safety. The perpetrators of the great potential for disaster being Australian qualified Private Pilots; who are reimbursed their fuel costs by the charity. This all related to a debateable ’legal’ technicality in the very rules which CASA wrote. CASA have a remarkable number of operational ‘dispensations’ and ‘exemptions’ out there; some as old as industry itself. So, if the ‘technical’ illegality of AF pilots being reimbursed their fuel costs cannot be resolved; then CASA must either sort the rules out (mission impossible) or; issue an exemption until they finally do; or, perhaps find a way to fund the flights, through charter operators. That, or kill off one of the most useful charities in Australia. The espoused ‘public safety’ case is a gross nonsense: as risible, twisted and perverted as the mind which dreamed it up five years ago. There is barely a ‘real safety case’ to be discussed.
Ref: ABC News 22 February 2017 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-22/p…ss/8290906
Ref: SMH 16 Jan 2019 https://www.smh.com.au/business/companie…50re4.html
Essendon and the DFO is a horse of an entirely different colour. You don’t hear or see the minister or the CASA chairman out there on the hustings beating their chests and denouncing a ducking great big concrete and steel monstrosity built into the operational safety width of an active runway. That DFO could, potentially hold a couple of thousand innocent, unaware people, shopping and working. There is an ever present threat that ‘something’ could go horribly wrong, during a take off; duri.htmlng a missed approach; or, during a landing. World wide there have been many horrific tales of aircraft and buildings meeting, with the inevitable results. Many nations – even the Italians – have taken steps to minimise the risk. Not our CASA though. They simply pull the string attached to the ATSB top dog’s collar and whistle up yet another ‘Pilot error’ charge; done and dusted; game over. Now let’s move on to really important matters like the technical ‘illegality’ of Angel Fight.
And ‘we’ pay for this? Politicians all run away, the tax paying public meekly accepts the faery tales, industry shut’s up – as usual, a’feared of the ‘enforcers’ and the ATSB cowers in the gilded cage. What a brave, brilliant future CASA and our elected officials have crafted for Australia aviation safety. The stellar thinking, the impeccable logic, he visionary foresight toward ultimate safety, the breath taking elegance of the rules supporting the mystique of aviation safety.
“It has always seemed strange to me… the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second. ― John Steinbeck, Cannery Row.
I glance up as the twilight deepens, for I’d been addressing my now empty glass; there sits TOM – a quiet smile playing about the eyes. “Feel better now?” expressed by a raise of the eyebrows. “Yes” say’s I reaching into the Esky to liberate some more of the Alfred Guinness fine offering; “yes, indeed I do”. No thanks required, although how he knew to turn up exactly when he did, with exactly the right ‘thinking’ fluid, I’ll never know. Cheers Pop.
“If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones.”
P2 Addendum: Via Ben Morgan CEO AOPA Australia.
Dear Angel Flight Supporter
You will be aware that the government agency, CASA, has taken steps to restrict our volunteer pilots, and to ban helicopters, to the extent that the viability of the charity may be placed under threat. Despite repeated requests, the agency has declined to give us, or the Australian Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPS), any safety case, or risk analysis, to support these restrictions. Importantly, CASA has deliberately bypassed its own policies, protocols and ethical standards, by failing to adhere to its regulatory reform criteria. Instead, the CEO of CASA has issued a Direction, simply a ‘law’ which is signed by him. I have repeatedly asked the CEO why he has done this, and the response was, firstly, ‘because I have the authority’, and then when pressed further, ‘because it’s easy’.
I have asked the National Operations and Standards Exec Manager, what the new rules have to do with the two volunteer flight accidents which have occurred in the last 16 years (both involving bad weather), and his answer to me was to effect that they bore no relationship to the accidents. The ATSB (Safety Bureau) has not yet released its report into the last of these accidents, in 2017.
These accidents (two in 46,000 flights) are attracting unprecedented attention from CASA, and in particular, when compared with the high number of fatal accidents which have occurred in commercial operations in Australia during the same period. Initially, CASA was underpinning its rules on the basis that our passengers are ‘uninformed’ (that is, they don’t understand that they are not travelling on an airline or commercial operation, or understand the differences). We have provided CASA with our entire suite of documents which the pilots and passengers (and drivers) must read, sign and acknowledge, and the videos which the passengers must watch prior to flying. We are perplexed as to why CASA thinks that our disadvantaged rural passengers cannot understand what they read, see or sign.
They are also implying that they have no confidence in the training, testing and licensing of their own pilots. You all know that we only accept as volunteers, those pilots holding CASA licences, and flying CASA registered and maintained aircraft for private flight in Australia. Many of our volunteers are airline pilots, commercial pilots, and of course, private pilots. Their new rules do nothing to address CASA’s training or licensing issues – they merely seek to restrict those pilots, after issuing their licences, so that they can fly anyone else in Australia subject to the provisions of their licences, but not rural people coming into the cities with Angel Flight volunteer pilots for scheduled non-emergency medical appointments.
Angel Flight does not know why there has been such a concerted attack on these volunteer pilots and aircraft – given that it is CASA’s responsibility to ensure a proper level of training before issuing the licence – it is not Angel Flight’s job to take responsibility for training under CASA regulations: we rely on them to give licences only to those who have qualified.
After first alleging that they were introducing these rules, with what seemed undue haste just before Xmas, to improve safety (although they don’t relate to the two accidents since 2003), it then moved to relying on the ‘uninformed’ argument, then changed its thrust to ‘ we are doing what the USA is doing’. That is also grossly misleading, as the private flights in the USA are not regulated in this fashion. They only regulate what they regard to be commercial operations and give an exemption if they are flying for a charity. Finally, last Friday, the chair of the CASA board said we are not ‘technically private flights’. How that relates to their restrictive proposals is perplexing- particularly as CASA has never challenged our private status, and the statement bears no relationship to the proposed restrictions.
A very worrying event occurred last week – CASA called a regional TV station, offering them an exclusive statement if they would embargo the story until this Wednesday. That statement was from the chair of the CASA Board, Tony Matthews, who said CASA was going ahead with all but one of the rules. He alleged they were to table it in parliament on Tuesday, but not release that information until Wednesday – thereby limiting the time within which to lodge a Notice of Motion to Disallow the Directions. More worryingly, they did not tell Angel Flight about this – merely advised a TV station. Quite alarming behavior from a government agency, particularly that it issued the statement on 7 February, a mere 5 working days since the close of the brief public ‘consultation’ – there were 230 submissions, many of them being lodged on the last couple of days. It is difficult to see how they could come up with this decision if they were taking these submissions into account (and Angel Flight has privately received many copies of these). The leaked exclusive was then conveyed to The Australian newspaper, and published on 8th February : again, neither the CASA Board, nor CEO, nor anyone else from CASA, had advised Angel Flight of either its decision or its intention to make a statement or table the proposals, : there was no communication from the agency of any kind, nor to AOPA, represents thousands of general aviation pilots, and who had been communicating with CASA over the issue.
Angel Flight takes a proactive position in relation to safety, but does not accept that CASA should bypass proper regulatory reform procedures to rush these changes through, knowing they will have an adverse effect on these valuable services, and that they are unsupported by any safety case or risk analysis. This should be workshopped by industry and the submissions properly evaluated, and a safety risk analysis conducted and released, before reforms are proposed, and these should be done by regulatory amendment – the proposed administrative directive cuts across many regulations, pursuant to which the pilots achieved their licences. CASA appears to be saying that Angel Flight is responsible for CASA’s own licensing standards. This administrative directive both restricts the rights of pilots to fly under their CASA licences, and could jeopardise valuable volunteer work. Even more extraordinary is that CASA has banned helicopters from flying for Angel Flight, although there have been no heli accidents in the volunteer service,: more astounding is that CASA say it is acceptable to get the total aeronautical time required, in a helicopter, but then ban helicopters! This is particularly unfortunate when many of our rural people in flooded communities may need help getting their families to medical treatment when airfields are flooded. They have offered no explanation for this ban.
We urge you all, and your colleagues, to urgently contact both your local Member of the House of Representatives, and all Senators, requesting they lodge a Notice of Motion for Disallowance, so that the issue of safety can be assessed in a measured, educated, and fact-based fashion, adopting the usual protocols and industry input. There is only a brief window of opportunity to do this -the Notice must be lodged this week, possibly Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, on the basis that CASA will deliver it on Tuesday (but again, they have not allowed us this information – we are relying upon what the chair of their Board has said to a television station).
Let’s all pull together to help people in the bush have a better quality of life – contact all federal members of parliament now by email or phone (link to a list attached).
Thanks for your support,
Marjorie Pagani CEO