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“History is a set of lies agreed upon.” – AP forum version.

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I do remember now. Henceforth I’ll bear
Affliction till it do cry out itself,
“Enough, enough,” and die. – William Shakespeare’s King Lear

Never! not ever again will I spend hours of my life studying the CASA performances at Estimates. I have an overwhelming need of a long hot shower followed by sunshine, fresh air, solitude and above all silence. Far from the puling, snide, cynical, self serving voices answering fumbled, blunt questions. Questions to which the answers are turned into a cacophony of obfuscation and skilful deception.

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A deception which contains enough ‘fact’ to be parlayed into a legal argument which could stretch out for years and years, with no one any the better for it – barring the lawyers. Well and those politicians who would happily skip away from their well remunerated ministerial responsibility during the delay. But, before I wash the stench of it off, needs must I answer a very short question from Aunt Pru herself. “Can you define the most damning element of Monday’s events?” Good question; but where to begin.

The cast of Monday’s black comedy rivalled that of the ‘triumphant march’ from Verdi’s Aida i.e. there were a lot of ‘em. The hapless King trapped in the web of evil grand vizier’s, deceived by minions and ruthlessly milked of power by those held in thrall by dark magic. (A quick chuckle – it would be great fun to write it up as a faery story – alas). So to business. I gave AP”s request some thought and decided that the essential elements all lay within one passage of play – the ‘mystique’ of aviation safety used, once again, to scare the crap out of the audience. In the scene selected, the main players are Carmody and Aleck, supported by Campbell and Crawford. The words striking terror into the gullible ‘Currency’ and ‘Proficiency’.

From about 07:30.

Dr Aleck : I wish there were a magic test. The test is the risks that are presented can be mitigated to the point where the risk is not unacceptable in the interests of safety, balancing all the other relevant considerations. That is exactly the process Mr Carmody went through in allowing this one pilot an exemption to do what needed to be done. As Mr Carmody said, there was a risk attendant upon that. The irony is not lost that this was a defect.

CHAIR: In the case a mild nine days out of time—you could argue a position.

Dr Aleck : There are two things here. I think Senator Patrick was onto them. He was saying, ‘A few days out—we talking about people who are reasonably competent.’ There was this case that said this delegate who had not maintained proficiency conducted all these tests. How unfair it would be to all these people who paid money to have their tests conducted on the good-faith assumption that the person who was conducting them was capable of doing it. One of the things the court took into account there was that there were any number of people who had done this in good faith, without any reason to know or believe that the person who was conducting the test had fallen foul of a condition of his delegation.

They claim all manner of dire consequences for transgressions against a ‘black letter’ interpretation, go on to dismiss a perfectly sound Federal court decision on the flimsiest of grounds and go on to stretch the tale to terror to audience screaming point. For those afraid of these dark arts and dire consequences; with your indulgence, I shall dip a thumb nail in the tar pot and explain the basic fraud perpetrated.

There are serious legal implications to be considered relating to both ‘current experience’ and ‘proficiency’ for aircrew. Had there been an accident, with both pilots ‘not legal’ there would be hell to pay, in Coroners court, in the insurance court and just about any other court you care to name; without mentioning ‘the media’. Screaming headlines, ministers having conniptions, launching inquiry, heads rolling left, right and centre – it would be a blood bath – but only after the fact. It is quite acceptable for you to die in an aircraft accident, provided you do it quite legally, all boxes ticked, then all is well. Farewell; and, sorry for your loss.  However..

Within the Falcon story there are claims made of ‘wrong-doing’. To wit, #1 check pilot was not ‘current’ (let’s call it ‘legally’ qualified) therefore all the required check flights he conducted on other aircrew were rendered invalid. But was #1 check pilot ‘not legal’? CASA say Yes, there is however a very strong argument which says he was (benefit of the doubt ring any bells). Most certainly he was ‘rock solid’ legal under the old rules, before Part 61 reared it’s ugly, misshapen head. CASA claim the instrument flight check he completed was insignificant as it was not completed in a ‘comparable’ aircraft to the one currently being operated. Before 61 a multi engine aircraft instrument rating was acceptable – for all aircraft types on a licence.

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Even if the technicality could not be corrected the satisfactory completion of a week long, intensive check flight, under instrument flying conditions, in an ‘appropriate’ simulator, conducted by Flight Safety should carry that operational safety argument through – on the balance of probabilities and common sense at least; if not the black letter law legal case. Depending on which you prefer to prosecute – for the general good.

The final part of this saga borders on the place where spite meets lunacy. Let’s accept that ‘technically’ #1 was not ‘legal’. I say so what. How can check flights on other pilots possibly be deemed invalid? Provided those check flights were conducted properly and the required standards achieved, then, operationally at very least, there could be no impediment to continued operation of those pilots. Certainly, on a purely legal basis there is a case to answer and CASA is quite free and within their rights to prosecute that line and extract a penalty. Falcon needs a tidy up, no argument from me; provided CASA can actually produce the ‘evidence’ to support the ‘not legal’ charge, standing alone. The part which is completely ‘cock-eyed’ is the methodology used to generate argument of non ‘legal’ compliance. From a very small seed this monster has grown, like Topsy. Escalated from a grass roots level, not for ‘safety’s’ sake, that’s just a convenient catch-all. Campbell has, once again, used the system to kick this one up the line, aided and abetted by Worthington and amplified a small ditty into a symphony which needs the Director to conduct and defend the actions of his organisation.

Put the Falcon’s nose to the grindstone, sort out the technical and systematic errors within the CASA approved operating system, ensure that the administrative processes are compliant, make certain that the aircrew are both ‘legal’ and competent; just do it honestly, clinically, without rancour and be part of the solution; not the team attempting a dubious prosecution which achieves nothing apart from more fear and loathing of the CASA system and those who manipulate that system. Worked fine for Pel-Air did it not, despite the glaring irregularities. Sauce, goose, gander ring any small bells?

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Carmody reminds me of a circus bear, lead about the place with ring through his nose, dancing to the merry tune played by his captors. It is well past the time for a minister who actually wants to improve matters aeronautical, supported by a director who actually understands what the reforms so desperately needed are. There is no doubt a place in CASA for a career bureaucrat, once it becomes model citizen with aviation’s best interests at heart; but until then we need someone with aviation fuel running through his veins, not green ink and Earl Grey tea.

Enough and enough.

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