“It is quality rather than quantity that matters.” – Seneca.
A quick dip in the chequered history of Australian aviation safety management shows a steady but significant decline in ‘the quality’ – for wont of a better descriptor. You can define it yourself through the everyday things we use; even in this ‘throw away’ world we live in. There is still a demand, although diminishing for ‘quality’ products and the old maxim “can’t afford cheap stuff” remains valid. As always caveat emptor is the golden rule; you can still pay a premium price for alleged ‘quality’ and end up with dross. This is, IMO where the Australian travelling public have fetched up; we pay, unstintingly, incredible sums to ensure ‘safety’. Even every ticket sold contributes to the carrier air safety systems – from apprentice engineers to pilots; from audit to system improvements. It costs money, real money, to do this. The airlines return this investment to the passenger by way of ‘good standards’ and safe travel. They may not always deliver – but in the vast majority of cases they do. The beauty part of this is that the passenger has the choice of carrier and some say in the ‘quality’ of product.
“The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies.”
So much for the commercial side of flight; what about the really expensive side? The side over which no one has any real control i.e. the ‘government agencies. The cost of maintaining ATSB and CASA is astronomical; yet we must have the agencies. For the class of money we spend it seems fair and reasonable that the service provided should be first class. Alas. Thirty years and an estimated cost somewhere North of $300, 000, 000. 000 has been invested into what is one of the worst set of ‘safety rules’ ever produced. We had a much better safety record back when the Air Navigation Regulations were a slim volume of practical application and the Air Navigation Orders sat on the book shelf about the same thickness as the telephone book. Since then nothing has improved, the regulation becoming more complex and difficult to comply with, which is bad enough. Now we see the distinct pattern emerging which is becoming unhealthy. CASA seem to believe they are a legal firm – or, the ‘police’ and ATSB seem to believe they are nothing more than a press agency for both airlines and CASA. These are not things from my imagination, the story of Dom James, John Quadrio and several others bear stark witness to the appalling state to which the Australian aviation regulatory and safety agencies have descended. The cost of achieving SDA in terms of ‘quality’ assurance is disgraceful.
“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” – Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2.
It is small wonder that the aviation world is looking more and more to the Senate and the Senators to lend a hand and get a rope on the lunatics. The ATSB were emasculated during the Lockhart River affair and CASA dodged a large calibre bullet; many years later we have the Pel-Air and Norfolk Island farrago. The total cost of this debacle is staggering, the quality of the result disgraceful; but by far the worst is total zero improvement in system or safety lesson of value; to anyone. When the dust has settled a long, hard look, in terms of value for investment will be taken of this almost unbelievable saga. Perhaps by then there will be a minister who actually gives a damn and finally matters aeronautical will take a turn for the better. Do not hold your breathe…….
Waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality, nothing will do, and with them everything― Benjamin Franklin
Nevertheless; Sen Rex Patrick in his maiden speech to the Senate seems to have joined the ‘good guys’ and will assist in the quest for accountability, honesty, quality and integrity from our agencies. The sooner this happens, the better off we will all be. Do not hold your breathe…….
It is the proper duty of a representative body to look diligently into every affair of government and to talk much about what it sees. It is meant to be the eyes and the voice, and to embody the wisdom and will of its constituents. Unless Congress have and use every means of acquainting itself with the acts and the disposition of the administrative agents of the government, the country must be helpless to learn how it is being served …
Easily said; difficult to do. A small sample, representing just some of the monsters the Senate has to grapple with may be quickly seen:-
P2– in #32 – takes a little of the muck off the top of the deep, murky, expensive, pointless Pel-Air scandal.
Hitch in Australian flying sums up another debacle which has some ‘interesting’ conflicts, operational and ‘safety’ wise. A perfect, simple example of why reform is needed.
The Independent Australian asks some pertinent questions. Doc Sanders article smacks of truth and reality.
Two governments, three ministers, two new directors of CASA and a new CC at ATSB have failed to produce one single solitary piece of ‘reform’ which is worth anymore than yesterdays newspaper or likely to improve the quality of service to the travelling public. The scary thing is the meek acceptance of this as the ‘norm’. That ain’t right – not by a long shot it ain’t and anyone who believes hiding under their rice bowl will provide protection is barking.
Enough: I’ve important matters to deal with. I own a rather lovely bench plane, which was made in 1898. It is delight to use, or rather it was until it was dropped onto a stone floor and the back handle got broken, beyond repair. It will take the best part of today, probably some blood, the occasional tear and lots of sweat to remake one from scratch, finding the right wood is a challenge, but I believe there is a lump of suitable material lurking in the ‘bin’ I use for off-cuts of ‘special’ timber. I shall tip it all out and see what I have. Right; best crack on.
Turns off the computer (without a second glance), whistles up dogs – exeunt.
P2 – Charlie Brown’s final word on Quality v Quantity