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The RAAus CEO's Bizarre Comments about Safety

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From the newsletter.

 

"You know when you’re flying along nicely, the landscape sprawls out in front of you, the sun is overhead and you are as free as a bird. You’ve done your fuel checks, heading checks and temperature, oil pressure, and airspeed are all OK. You think to yourself, wow what a great place to be as you listen to your engine hum. Then your aircraft bumps you, almost imperceptibly. Was it some turbulence? A bird strike? The smooth flying returns for a few minutes as you settle back down. Then you’re bumped again, rougher this time. And again. You now recognise it: your engine has started running roughly. Its pitch has changed and as you scan your dials you see you’ve lost some airspeed.

 

This is where RAAus is today in regards to our safety. The glorious autumn weather across our country has meant most of our members have gone flying, but it has also resulted in four weekends and four serious accidents, one of them proving fatal.

 

We’ve had a serious accident in Tasmania, where both members walked away following some quick work in the cockpit to get the plane back on the ground: a broken ankle and some cuts and bruises were the result.

 

A Victorian pilot while conducting a test flight encountered engine trouble, he made it safely back onto the ground in a nearby paddock: minor injuries upon landing were the result.

 

We had a fatal accident in remote Queensland on a property as part of a mustering activity.

 

And just last weekend, two members in Wagga, NSW, using all of their skills, got an aircraft back on the ground safely after an engine fire in flight.

 

In all of the press reports the headlines read along the lines of “lucky to escape”, “crash landing” etc etc. But generally, we know better than that. In three of the four incidents, pilot skill and training handled the inflight situation.

 

Notwithstanding this though, as CEO, I am a little concerned by these accidents and want to re-affirm our commitment to safety and remind our members of the need to ensure safe operations at all times. Whereas it is too early in any of these occurrences to fully understand the causal factors, they do serve as timely reminders that things can go wrong and that safe operations are the responsibility of all pilots.

 

For over five years now RAAus has steadily and deliberately improved our safety outcomes. These outcomes have been brought about by a shifting culture at all levels within the organisation. This has included our regular safety updates, member forums, online training, our annual professional development program, safety videos, safety management system implementation and occurrence management system. All of this is underpinned by our open and fair reporting culture.

 

We will look at the last four weekends and try and understand more about why these accidents happened. We won’t be throwing the book at any member, we want to learn and understand what went wrong, so we can use that as a tool to both educate those involved, but also educate our broader membership.

 

I know I speak for our Board, staff and every member: we all want RAAus to be the safest it can be. In achieving that we all have a role to play as a safety ambassador and talking to, communicating with those around us to ensure when we are up in the air all of our dials remain in the green."

 

I make the following observations.

 

1. Because randomness is lumpier than one intuitively expects, a short-term decrease in accidents does not mean that underlying safety has improved. The CEO seems to think that the good fortune over the last few years meant that underlying safety had improved. If you don't understand randomness, you can't understand the outcome of statistics for events that do not occur often. You can't "steadily and deliberately" improve safety outcomes over a short period.

 

2. The "glorious autumn weather" did not result in the fatal mustering accident, because they didn't go mustering because of the glorious autumn weather.

 

3. "Lucky to escape... but we know better than that". Actually, in all the good outcomes, there was some good luck and some bad luck. In the fatal accident, there was just bad luck. To say that luck was not involved was ludicrous. There were factors other than luck, but that was not the only factor at play.

 

4. "We won't be throwing the book at any member". I am not suggesting that anybody should have the book thrown at them. But what if an investigation shows up repeated disregard for safety and training standards? Suppose an employer forbade an employee for getting low-level flying training? Suppose if you don't lift the bonnet for 1000 hours a fuel hose might fall off? Presuming the results of a safety investigation is ludicrous. There are well-established ways of having a just culture and throwing the book at people who deserve it. James Reason is perhaps the best-known author for dealing with this.

 

5. "The need to ensure safe operations at all times". There is no such thing as "safe operations". There is only hazard multiplied by probability, and the balancing want/need to fly. I know it is counter-intuitive, but it is true.

 

6. "we all want RAAus to be the safest it can be" Ah, but you don't, and you shouldn't. The whole idea of RA-Aus is to enable people to fly more cheaply. And that means, fly with more risk. The CEO identified that training makes things safer. The bigger the airplane someone flies, and the more passengers they carry, and the greater the passenger's expectation of safety, the more training and regulations are present. (Whether or not the training and regulations actually make things safer is a related, but different, issue.) Stated differently, because RAAus has the smallest planes with the fewest passengers, lower levels of training and regulations are accepted. In other words, quite reasonably, higher risks are accepted in RA-Aus.

 

If the CEO *really* wanted to make RAAus the safest it could be, the first thing he would do would require PPL levels of training and GA quality of maintenance. But he won't and, for obvious reasons, he shouldn't.

 

7. "We will look at the last four weekends and try and understand more about why these accidents happened" This ignores that the underlying issues will have been present, and knowable, since before the accident.

 

8. Using a cheesy metaphor/simile to compare flying on a nice day and getting engine trouble, and a fatal accident is just a bit sick. Having someone die is just gut-wrenchingly awful.

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Well that’s an hour of your life wasted you can’t get back

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3. "Lucky to Escape" was what the MEDIA said. The CEO is pointing out that it was more than luck. Training & skill comes into it.

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Probably more my concern is the way the CEO says the following:

"...I am a little concerned by these accidents...it is too early in any of these occurrences to fully understand the causal factors"

"We won’t be throwing the book at any member, we want to learn and understand what went wrong, so we can use that as a tool to both educate those involved, but also educate our broader membership.

 

Those words jumped off the virtual page when I read them - if it is "too early to fully understand the factors" then why make a statement about not throwing the book? That already infers that there has been some determination that "a member" is to blame. The statement would have read much better without the mention of books being thrown.

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I think it's nice to know books aren't going to get thrown at members. .Nev

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A functional SMS is not that organisations strong point.

Printing accident summaries is not the way to address safety.

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I will use this quote from our leader when it ends up in court your honour.

Also Mustering, as far as I am concerned is a ""commercial operation", and should not be put in same vein for our Recreational Flying stats. (sorry if it sounds hard).

 

We will never stop accidents ever. No person or machine is perfect and we will always make mistakes, just make sure they are small ones that don't lead to big ones. As for the machines we fly its the risk we take to fly. Look at the best that has been made Boeing 737 max 8 - who could have seen that coming.

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It doesn't seem to matter what comes from RA-Aus someone will pick holes in it and searching for them is being a bit pedantic.

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Our CEO needs to desist from commenting upon operational matters. That's why we employ an Operations Manager.

happy days,

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It doesn't seem to matter what comes from RA-Aus, someone will pick holes in it and searching for them is being a bit pedantic. We are all human and make mistakes, and we are all entitled to our opinions. There are 8 opinions in the reply.

 

Here is an alternative view.

 

1 The statistcs have shown our safety record has improved over the past 5 years but we can't become complacent.

2. They wouldn't have been mustering by air if the weather was poor.

3. From the media. Nothing more to say.

4. A euphamism to get the point across that there is no witch hunt (another euphamism)

5. If I didn't think it was safe to fly I wouldn't do it. By definition it is unsafe to get out of bed, to walk out the door, to drive a car.......

6. We still want it to be the safest it can be. What,s wrong with that.

7. That's what happens with all accidents. Flying, cars, motorbikes etc.

8. There is nothing wrong with using any sort of scenario as a metaphor to lead into the purpose of the subject matter.

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It doesn't seem to matter what comes from RA-Aus, someone will pick holes in it and searching for them is being a bit pedantic. We are all human and make mistakes, and we are all entitled to our opinions. There are 8 opinions in the reply.

 

Here is an alternative view.

 

1 The statistcs have shown our safety record has improved over the past 5 years but we can't become complacent.

2. They wouldn't have been mustering by air if the weather was poor.

3. From the media. Nothing more to say.

4. A euphamism to get the point across that there is no witch hunt (another euphamism)

5. If I didn't think it was safe to fly I wouldn't do it. By definition it is unsafe to get out of bed, to walk out the door, to drive a car.......

6. We still want it to be the safest it can be. What,s wrong with that.

7. That's what happens with all accidents. Flying, cars, motorbikes etc.

8. There is nothing wrong with using any sort of scenario as a metaphor to lead into the purpose of the subject matter.

It would be a very good idea for you to check the history trail of PL court cases.

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If you don't like what comes from our leaders. you now have the opportunity to stand for board election. If you do get elected please refrain from wearing the rose tinted glasses and also be realistic instead of idealistic.

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Safety, safety, an more bloody safety.

 

It's just so those at the top of an organization can express a concern to justify holding their position.

 

I worked in the higest levels of health and safety for years, and seen no positive change in the workplace.

 

People need to be held responsible for their own actions, and not have others force them to comply with unrealistic procedures.

 

If these people want to see change in safety, get those push bike riders off the roads and on to cycle tracks.

 

I fly and have done so for over forty years, l never take passenger's because flying, driving or riding a bike is risky, when you rely on mechanical devices at altitude or speed you risk your life, that's why l don't involve anyone in my activities.

 

It's a matter of preference, what we choose to get our kicks is our choice, and accept the risks involved, l don't ride my Harley chopper anymore, it's too risky on the roads today.

 

I drive a beefed up Land Cruiser to protect myself from idiots on the roads but still fly because there's much less risk involved.

 

It all comes down to luck, good management and preventative maintenance, even then it can still stuff up a good day.

 

It's called Murphys Law.

 

l should know, l wrote the book and have survived, ( so far )

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Mustering, as far as I am concerned is a ""commercial operation", and should not be put in same vein for our Recreational Flying stats. (sorry if it sounds hard).

 

Havn`t looked at the current OPS Manual but I reckon the principal hasn`t changed! From memory, the original wording was " An Ultralight Aircraft may only be used commercially, for the purpose of instruction"...In an attempt to create a better image for our sport, AUF/RA-Aus changed the term Ultralight Aircraft to Light Sport Aircraft, also, as I understand it, a property owner may use their LSA, legally, for inspecting fence-lines and mustering...I would consider mustering to be a commercial operation when the person mustering is being paid to do it...I do get your point,though.

 

We will never stop accidents ever. No person or machine is perfect and we will always make mistakes, just make sure they are small ones that don't lead to big ones.

 

Unfortunately, I have to agree with you...The best we can do, is the best we can do!

 

Franco.

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How do you know which "small" mistakes won't turn out to be big ones?.. If you are doing a flight check and stuff up a few things saying "everybody makes mistakes" will probably see you going out the door fast.. Flying is a bit special. You are up in the sky because a lot of people did things right to enable you to get there. In flying, if you aren't sure, check it. Being wrong in a flying environment has serious consequences for seemingly small errors or not being alert to what is happening and doing the right thing about it. Nev

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mis·take

(mĭ-stāk′)

n.

1. An error or fault resulting from defective judgment, deficient knowledge, or carelessness.

2. A misconception or misunderstanding.

 

By definition, I would say there is no small mistake, a mistake is a mistake! it`s the result of the mistake that determines the outcome.

 

I recall reading, in a safety magazine, 65% of GA pilots forgot to remove the chocks from the wheels of the aircraft, before they got on board and started the engine!

 

Franco.

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I have made small ones like forgetting to switch the fuel pump on for takeoff, forgetting to turn the landing light for landing awareness, wondering why climb performance was poor (oh yes, the flaps!). Caused by distractions. Any of these could be part of an accident scenario, but the other holes in the cheese didnt line up. I would call these small mistakes, I hope other pilots have made them because the alternative is that i am hopeless.

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I have made small ones like forgetting to switch the fuel pump on for takeoff, forgetting to turn the landing light for landing awareness, wondering why climb performance was poor (oh yes, the flaps!). Caused by distractions. Any of these could be part of an accident scenario, but the other holes in the cheese didnt line up. I would call these small mistakes, I hope other pilots have made them because the alternative is that i am hopeless.

I think I made one back in the sixties.............does that help.

 

Turned fuel off (after last person who used the ac forgot to turn it on and I just moved the tap to the next sector.)

Forgot to retract full flap for T&G takeoff

Played with the ADF when I wasn't qualified and set it for the altitude of St George. Still made it to the airfield

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There's a difference between thinking it's OK and really checking that it's OK. While it's true the only people who never made mistakes never made anything, we are not making things when we are flying. We are doing things taught to us as a result of over 100 years of being somewhere not natural for us (up in the sky) and generally being careful about how we go about it and most of us get to die of old age as we've learned from others who did make mistakes or just didn't have the opportunity to know what would happen if you did this or that particular thing.

As an instructor from time to time over quite a time I would be devastated if a pupil of mine had a bad accident as a result of me not showing him the essentials clearly. I can't control if he/she wants to throw it all away and be careless or foolhardy or show off someplace at some time.

Don't be rushed or distracted and if time is short and a lot of things are going wrong do the ESSENTIALS. Set a priority of MUSTS , Good to do, and nice if you have the time to finesse it.. Think AEROPLANE when operating one or near one. They are different from most other things you usually deal with. Not enough sugar in your coffee is not like not enough fuel in your tanks... Nev

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I'm sick of this safety stuff which has degenerated into just another way for some people to seek to dominate others.

The latest employment statistics show that there has been a steep decline in manufacturing jobs, but a big increase in safety jobs. Soon we will have more people stopping production than we have producing things.

With regards to flying, you can look up how it is twice as safe as being overweight and 4 times safer than being inactive.

Not that I mind having RAAus having a goal of affordable, safe aviation... as long as they keep it in that order of priority.

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6. "we all want RAAus to be the safest it can be" Ah, but you don't, and you shouldn't.

 

WHAT THE???

 

Of course we all want it to be the safest it can be! And it probably is. I agree, RAA makes it cheaper and easier for us to all fly, and yes, that does come with higher risks, and so maybe it already is as safe as it can be.

 

To say anyone should not want it as safe as it could be is a silly statement! Otherwise, we could forget any form of regulation and go nuts! Then it surely won't be as safe as it should be.

 

I am new to RAA. Been here about 3 years, and I am not sure what everyone is up in arms about!! I don't know much about the leadership, as it does not really interest me. What does interest me is that an organisation has enabled me to buy my own bird, maintain it, and fly it pretty much anywhere I want (CTA aside, not that I want into busy ADs anyway) so I really don't see the problem.

 

Someone I spoke to had a whinge about registration and membership fees - They are kidding right!!! It cost's me less for my RAA than it does for my gun club membership! SHEESH!

 

Lastly, through RAA I saved about a thousand bucks on my Aircraft insurance. So personally, I really don't see the issue. But like they say I guess, you can't please everyone.

 

Just my $0.2

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Dick Smith got hammered for saying that " Australia needed an affordable air-safety system" .

So true that it didn't seem worth saying.... the alternative being an unaffordable system.

But this didn't save Dick from the mob of idiots.

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Dick Smith got hammered for saying that " Australia needed an affordable air-safety system" .

So true that it didn't seem worth saying.... the alternative being an unaffordable system.

But this didn't save Dick from the mob of idiots.

Google the man's background! Why would you be hanging on every word he said about aviation? (and I'm not referring to Dick)

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