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A significant shortfall in RA-Aus fatal accidents listed in ATSB recreational aviation research an

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The content of the following email, sent to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau a few days ago, should be of interest to RA-Aus members. The ATSB has indicated they will fix the quarterly reports mentioned below but, in the meantime, have requested RA-Aus to remove the existing documents from the RA-Aus website, so if you want to read them, be quick. Please also note that, up to October 21 this year, our association has experienced six fatal accidents with eight fatalities and one little girl severely injured. Another horror year.


1. ATSB research and data analysis reports published in the RA-Aus website


The Recreational Aviation Australia Inc [RA-Aus] has published three ATSB documents, in the 'members only' section of their website [ www.raa.asn.au ], titled:




Summary of occurrences reported to ATSB Recreational Aviation operations:


January - March 2013 also April - June 2013 and July - September 2013




(No document for the October - December 2013 period appears in the RA-Aus website.)




The ATSB document covering the January - March 2013 period lists four reported fatal accidents involving RA-Aus aircraft but seven fatal accidents occurred and nine persons died during that time. The following three accidents seem not to have been reported to ATSB by state police or by RA-Aus Operations staff:




January 11, 2013 - a Lightwing GR912 25-3022 crashed near Beaconsfield Tas. The male pilot suffered fatal injuries.


February 3, 2013 - a Skyfox Gazelle 24-3223 crashed near Glasshouse Mountains Qld. The female pilot suffered fatal injuries.


March 12, 2013 - a Tecnam aircraft crashed at Quilpie Station, south-west Qld. The male pilot later succumbed to his injuries.




Similarly the April - June document lists only one fatal accident for RA-Aus registered aircraft though that aircraft appears to be a foot-launched, backpack-powered paraglider which are normally HGFA aircraft only. However the following two accidents appear to be unreported by police or RA-Aus Operations staff:




April 22, 2013 - a Super Diamond crashed at Mitchells Island near Taree, NSW. The male pilot suffered fatal injuries.


June 16, 2013 - a Colyaer Martin 3 24-7454 (?) crashed near Dongarra, WA. The male pilot suffered fatal injuries.




There were no RA-Aus fatal accidents in the July - September quarter and none recorded on the ATSB document.




To summarise the foregoing: during the nine month period January-September 2013 ATSB were able to record only four of the nine fatal RA-Aus aircraft accidents. Obviously this severe shortfall in fatal accident reporting by State police and RA-Aus Operations results in quite unrealistic 'semi-official' data being presented to RA-Aus members via those ATSB documents and the RA-Aus website.



2. The Australian Government's Aviation Safety Regulation Review [ASRR] Panel report and its interpretation by the RA-Aus President




In addition to the preceding, ASRR's May 30, 2014 report Appendix A9 'Accident analysis and comparison: General Aviation and RA-Aus (data and analysis:ATSB)' incorporates data and analysis material supplied by ATSB for the years 2008 through 2013 but "excludes weight-shifting aircraft" commonly referred to as 'trikes'. The RA-Aus fatal accident figures included for 2008, 2009 & 2010 (1, 6 & 3 with 13 fatalities) accord with the recorded accidents, but the 2011 - 2013 figures differ as follows:



2011 - 3 reported and 6 actual (8 fatalities)


2012 - 1 reported and 3 actual (5 fatalities including an instructor and student in a Sportcruiser)


2013 - 9 reported and 12 actual (14 fatalities) - this is the worst year ever recorded for RA-Aus, surpassing 2007 when 13 persons died in 8 fatal accidents.




Total 2011-13 - 13 reported, 21 actual (27 fatalities)


Total 2008-13 - 23 reported, 31 actual (40 fatalities)






The RA-Aus President's report appearing in the July 2014 issue of the monthly RA-Aus members' journal 'Sport Pilot' contained this statement:




"The data used in the [ASRR] report covers the period 2008 - 2013. Our fatality rate over this period is pretty steady and some could argue that, aside from 2013, it is downward trending. This is somewhat reassuring and suggests that as pilots (and other participants in our sport) we are less likely to be killed today than we were some years back. To me this is a great result." There is no indication in the President's report that all our trike accidents have been excluded from the ASRR report.




In my opinion the President's rather peculiar statement is misleading those RA-Aus members who are not better informed than the President. The current incumbent had only been in that position for two months when he wrote the article and had been elected to the 13-member RA-Aus board about 6 or 7 months prior; maybe that is the reason for his seeming lack of knowledge of the actual RA-Aus fatal accident history during 2011 - 2013 and the fact that 2013, with 14 persons fatally injured and one small child critically injured, was the association's worst year ever and assuredly not 'a great result' by any stretch of one's imagination.




Since about 2004 the RA-Aus has displayed an aversion to mentioning any fatal accident in the monthly members' journal (or providing any statistical data) though other accidents and incidents are regularly listed. However the recent creation of a National Safety Manager position has placed a much greater emphasis on reporting of accidents, incidents and defects. An article appearing in the September 2014 issue of Sport Pilot written by the National Safety Manager did break this apparently prescribed practice by at least providing bare statistics for the number of fatal accidents (14) occurring during the 18 month period January 2013 to June 2014.



3. Tightening the fatal accident reporting system for ultralight aeroplanes (3-axis and weight-shift controlled) and powered parachutes




This revealed shortfall in the sporadic reporting of fatal accidents to ATSB could perhaps be readily remedied if the RA-Aus National Safety Manager or the Operations Manager (in addition to state police) was directed by ATSB/CASA to also report to ATSB all fatal accidents - as they occur - involving any ultralight aeroplane or powered parachute (presumed to be operating under the Civil Aviation Regulation exemptions provided by CAOs 95.10, 95.32 or 95.55) where the aircraft or pilot has (or should have) an association with the RA-Aus.




CASA reported in the last Regional Aviation Safety Forum meeting notes that 'only 3 fatal accidents out of 54 in the past five years are related to operations by pilots who were not members of a Recreational Aviation Administration Organisation" and none of the 21 fatal accidents occurring in 2013 involved such persons.




4. Correcting the ATSB documents and informing the RA-Aus membership




Is it possible for ATSB to correct/update the 'Summary of occurrences reported to ATSB' documents listed in section 1 above and also provide similar summaries for the last quarter of 2013 and quarters 1, 2 and 3 of 2014 for publication in the RA-Aus website?




John Brandon


RA-Aus Life Member



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Correct me if I'm wrong but aren't all accidents report-able to ATSB regardless of fatal or inquires. This goes for all aircraft regardless of size or type of registration. Could the summaries be missed titled and are more based on incidents that are investigated rather then reported?



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rhysmcc: if I understand you correctly, you are asking whether this could be a case of the ATSB under-counting the number of incidents involving RA-Aus aircraft. In short: no. The ATSB does not count incidents based upon what is contained in the title or summary of the incident reports, or whether the incident was investigated. If an incident is reported to the ATSB it will be counted.


You are absolutely correct in that all incidents should be reported to the ATSB (as per the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003) but, unfortunately, this has not happened.



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......The following three accidents seem not to have been reported to ATSB by state police or by RA-Aus Operations staff.....

Maybe this is where some of the problems lie. In terms of accountability, it should be relatively straightforward for all organisations to demonstrate whether or not they did report to ATSB. Whichever hasn't done the reporting will need a bit of a kick up the organisation's you-know-what.



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Whichever hasn't done the reporting will need a bit of a kick up the organisation's you-know-what.

The Act provides for penalties for "responsible persons" who do not report the incident to the ATSB, but the ATSB is reluctant to exercise those powers.


In the case of an immediately reportable matter the penalty prescribed by the Act is "Imprisonment for 12 months"!!!



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The Act provides for penalties for "responsible persons" who do not report the incident to the ATSB, but the ATSB is reluctant to exercise those powers.In the case of an immediately reportable matter the penalty prescribed by the Act is "Imprisonment for 12 months"!!!

The Transport Safety Investigation Regulations define 'immediately reportable matters' thus:


All aircraft operations


(1) For the purposes of the definition of immediately reportable matter in subsection 3 (1) of the Act, the following investigable matters, in relation to an aircraft operation ... are prescribed:


(a) ... the death of, or a serious injury to:


(i) a person on board the aircraft or in contact with the aircraft or anything attached to the aircraft or anything that has become detached from the aircraft; or


(ii) a person who has been directly exposed to jet blast;


(b) the aircraft being missing;


© the aircraft suffering serious damage, or the existence of reasonable grounds for believing that the aircraft has suffered serious damage;


(d) the aircraft being inaccessible and the existence of reasonable grounds for believing that the aircraft has been seriously damaged;


(e) breakdown of separation standards, being a failure to maintain a recognised separation standard (vertical, lateral or longitudinal) between aircraft that are being provided with an air traffic service separation service. Note: This may result from air traffic service, pilot or other actions, and may occur even if only 1 of the aircraft involved is under control of an airtraffic service.


The TSI Regulations define only these following persons as responsible persons in relation to ATSB reportable matters:


(a) a crew member of the aircraft concerned;


(b) the owner or operator of the aircraft;


© a person performing an air traffic control service in relation to the aircraft;


(d) a person performing a dedicated aerodrome rescue or firefighting service in relation to the aircraft;


(e) a person who:


(i) is licensed as an aircraft maintenance engineer under the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 or the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998; and


(ii) does any work in relation to the aircraft;


(f) a member of the ground handling crew in relation to the aircraft;


(g) a member of the staff of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority;


(h) the operator of an aerodrome.


So under the Regulations the State or Federal police have no responsibility for reporting anything to the ATSB nor do any RAAO personnel (RA-As operations staff for example), although there are informal reporting/co-operational relationships between RAAOs and ATSB. So in the case of the owner pilot dying in an RA-Aus accident there is generally no 'responsible person' who could be legally charged with failing to report an accident to ATSB, certainly not police or RA-Aus Operations.


However the new Transport Safety Investigation Amendment Regulation, expected to be promulgated in late 2015, will add the following line to the above list of responsible persons to tidy the situation up:


'(j) a recreational aviation administration organisation recognised by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.'


John Brandon



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