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CASA set to "fix" community service flights

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Angel Flight, Aircraft Owners Assn fighting CASA regulation plan

Sally Cripps

31 Jan 2019, 8 p.m.

 
Baby Lotus and her mother Sarah ready for their flight in Angel Flight board chairman, Bill Bristow's Pilatus jet. Picture - Geoff Marsh.

 Baby Lotus and her mother Sarah ready for their flight in Angel Flight board chairman, Bill Bristow's Pilatus jet. Picture - Geoff Marsh.

 
 
 
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Rural communities around Australia are outraged at a proposal by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to introduce a new minimum safety standard for community service flights that have the potential to ground Angel Flight Australia.

The charity coordinates non-emergency flights to assist country people to access specialist medical treatment that would otherwise be unavailable because of vast distance and high travel costs, utilising volunteer pilots.

Angel Flight’s CEO, Marjorie Pagani, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia, Queensland’s opposition spokesman for volunteers, Lachlan Millar, and Kennedy MP, Bob Katter, have all condemned the proposal, which they say is a gross discrimination against rural people.

All have demanded that the federal government intervene to prevent the new standards from coming into being.

“What CASA is saying is that I can fly you to Toowoomba any day of the week to go shopping but as soon as you say you’re going there for medical purposes, I’m not qualified to fly you,” Ms Pagani said. “It defies belief.”

She said the proposal, which related to licensing requirements, minimum pilot experience and maintenance-related enhancements, showed CASA had lost confidence in its own licencing system, under which the charity’s pilots and aircraft operated.

“Why else would they place these restrictions on lawfully licenced pilots,” she said.

“The long and short of it is, why are we suddenly unsafe if we want to help a rural person?

“There is no nation in the world that restricts a pilot’s licence according to the needs of their passengers.”

 

Related:

Further unleashing her dismay at the potential the changes would have on what has become an essential service, conducting 4000 trips a year, Ms Pagani was critical of the way CASA had apparently circumvented the usual regulatory process, and what she said was the “invention” of a community service flight category.

She described the standards as a “grab bag” of restrictions that were unrelated to the two fatal accidents, in 2011 and 2017, that are understood to be at the crux of the changes.

She said any improvement to the service would come from safety education, which she had been working with CASA on for 18 months, not aircraft standards.

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One of the changes proposed would increase minimum pilot hour requirements, which would preclude some of the volunteers with lower hours.

Another requires aircraft engines to be maintained to commercial charter standards, which could cost $85,000 or more.

In outlining its need for consultation, CASA said a regulatory baseline would provide clarity regarding an appropriate minimum safety standard.

It anticipated most pilots currently conducting community safety flights would meet the proposed new standards.

While CASA said Angel Flight pilots didn’t operate under the safety umbrella of an Air Operator’s Certificate, which commercial operators work under, Ms Pagani said users were comprehensively briefed on procedures and made aware of all aspects, including watching a video, before they were introduced to a pilot.

Benjamin Morgan, the executive director of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia, accused CASA of highlighting two tragic accidents, both found to have been the result of pilot error, from over 46,000 successful flights, to manipulate public perception of the service.

“The elephant in the room is aviation safety, which should be addressed by communication, collaboration and education, not by ramming enforcement regulations through that only cover the backside of a bureaucrat if something happens,” he said. “We have to not overreact to a situation in a way that means we can no longer provide a service.”

Calls for intervention

Mr Morgan called on every Australian to contact their local MP and demand they oppose the changes, saying the next group to be affected could be private individuals transporting people to doctor’s appointments in their cars.

“Will they demand they have motor car engine overhauls or a higher degree of driver training?”

One politician who has called on the federal government, particularly transport minister Michael McCormack. to intervene is Queensland opposition spokesman on emergency services and volunteers, Lachlan Millar.

“I am outraged that an unelected bureaucrat can ground the charity, Angel Flight, with a flick of a pen and no federal parliamentary scrutiny,” he said.

“The Civil Aviation Authority’s plan will ground 80 per cent of the volunteer pilots who take rural and remote patients for non-emergency treatments such as dialysis.

“This plan will cause real pain to rural people. Angel Flight pilots are everyday heroes. They make a major difference and actually help governments by reducing the cost of delivering health care in the bush.

“I am publicly asking the deputy Prime Minister and federal transport minister, Michael McCormack, to intervene and fix this.”

He was joined by KAP leader and federal Member for Kennedy, Bob Katter, in calling out the Civil Aviation Safety Authority for what he called their latest show of incompetence, which he said could kill Angel Flight.

“One of Dick Smith’s finest moments was his attack upon CASA; CASA has downed more planes than the Red Baron,” Mr Katter said, adding the authority had repeatedly displayed its ineptitude.

“To take Angel Flight out of the skies is to remove the mantle of safety put there by Reverend John Flynn and his Royal Flying Doctor Service, and I speak with great passion because both my father and his brother died at the hands of that Australian tyrant – the tyranny of distance.

“When you protect your precious statistics, that conciliatory is costing us lives.

“It is quite clear to me these very generous self-sacrificing pilot-owners cannot afford to take the risks of CASA prosecutions – the safety Nazis – and we will lose this wonderful service.”

Mr Katter said he had contacted the minister for transport and demanded his immediate intervention and asked rural chambers of commerce, flyers, clubs and councils to join the fight on this issue.

The public consultation period, launched after federal parliament rose in December, closed on Thursday.

CASA and transport minister, Michael McCormack, were contacted for comment.

Edited by fly_tornado

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Here are the links to the two ATSB reports which led to this.

 

Effectively they are non paid commercial flights where, because the time vs weather vs stress factors they should be flown by a CPL who is both trained for these conditions, and usually current on both VFR and IFR operations and other factors not taught for PPL.

 

An emotional subject where the participants have all the best intentions in the world, but the regulator has to correct the double standard.

 

Solution: Raise more money and use the CPL/Charter aircraft system like Royal Flying Doctor Service.

 

https://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/investigation_reports/2011/aair/ao-2011-100/

 

https://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/investigation_reports/2017/aair/ao-2017-069/

 

 

 

 

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 It's one thing to get airborne by yourself and not over  populous areas. You are minimal risk to others and you are responsible for your own welfare and risk level.

  It's one more thing to take an "informed " person with you who knows and accepts the risks. Just ONE( as RAAus does.)

  It's another jump to increase the number of passengers to more than one to say 4. Why stop at 4?

  It's more again to carry random and unspecified ill, impaired, movement limited beings in a semi emergency situation for convenience to them. to fly a needed route/operation, where a safe standard of operation is expected. on a "proper" certified airworthy plane with a licenced pilot. They certainly don't expect to die getting there.

  It's even more again to run a scheduled service for the public to pay for.. in virtually all conditions. 24/7.

  In the first 2 CASA should accept the limitation of privileges restricted/ offered to have rules relaxed (allow freedoms) in return.

  For the last 2 definitely CASA have an obligation and duty of care, to protect user's rights. The extent is debatable and the scope needs to be defined from time to time, but it's definitely there.. TRAINING is always preferred to the "iron fist" and making it a crime, rule, that the CASA specialize in .. Banning a form of flying WILL make things safer. BAN the lot is the  logical  way to reduce the toll to zero, if you take that concept to it's ultimate conclusion. Nev

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9 hours ago, fly_tornado said:

Another requires aircraft engines to be maintained to commercial charter standards, which could cost $85,000 or more.

I don't quite see the correlation between the crashes and the response? Neither plane suffered an engine failure

 

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So what is the difference between an "angel flight" and the friend down the road who offers to fly you to a centre for treatment. The only difference I can see is the non profit who links flyers with the need. The problem I can see with the Mount Gambier accident is that there is a commercial service available which was not utilised and a (relatively) inexperienced, community active person focused on the need to meet deadlines. It would seem that the accident potential was raised by imperative to meet deadlines which we have all experienced on the ground. Unfortunately a human response.

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2 hours ago, Jim McDowall said:

So what is the difference between an "angel flight" and the friend down the road who offers to fly you to a centre for treatment. The only difference I can see is the non profit who links flyers with the need. The problem I can see with the Mount Gambier accident is that there is a commercial service available which was not utilised and a (relatively) inexperienced, community active person focused on the need to meet deadlines. It would seem that the accident potential was raised by imperative to meet deadlines which we have all experienced on the ground. Unfortunately a human response.

A big difference; a patient who may have medical needs needs to get home; has been discharged from facility, family checked out of motel etc. Patient and family unknown to pilot, safety expectation for safety similar to Jetstar, patient may have relapse, people may be throwing up; ask a commercial pilot what it's like.

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9 hours ago, turboplanner said:

safety expectation for safety similar to Jetstar

Anyone who gets into a light aircraft with the expectation that their safety is similar to flying Jetstar probably does need treatment!

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Gees. I'm glad that I hold an authority from Transport New South Wales to drive a public passenger vehicle, and a licence from NSW Roads and Maritime Services to drive heavy vehicle combinations. It's a relief to know that my wife will have a perfectly safe 15-minute, each way trip to the hospital for her radiation treatment. I wonder how all those other husbands and wives drive their relatives to the hospital for treatment. The drivers can't all have the government permissions that I do. Maybe they use Uber drivers?

 

 

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1 hour ago, Jim McDowall said:

Anyone who gets into a light aircraft with the expectation that their safety is similar to flying Jetstar probably does need treatment!

And that attitude is why we need a CASA.

The members of the general public who know the realistic risk factors in PPL and PC flying are a miniscule percentage of the population, who have an expectation that nothing goes wrong.

The first step towards giving a person a chance to avoid a risk is to provide an adequate warning.

 

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9 minutes ago, turboplanner said:

And that attitude is why we need a CASA.

you always seem to have the wrong take on everything.

 

CASA response to these 2 pilot error accidents is wrong as usual

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26 minutes ago, fly_tornado said:

you always seem to have the wrong take on everything.

 

CASA response to these 2 pilot error accidents is wrong as usual

I'm not sure how many RA and GA pilots there are together, but if we said 15,000, there are a few that share that view and will never change.

What has happened has happened, and no one should be surprised.

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10 hours ago, turboplanner said:

The members of the general public who know the realistic risk factors in PPL and PC flying are a miniscule percentage of the population, who have an expectation that nothing goes wrong.

Turbs, do you have any friends outside aviation? Almost everyone I know who isn't an aviator thinks I'm nuts to fly around the countryside in a small aeroplane.

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46 minutes ago, Jim McDowall said:

Turbs, do you have any friends outside aviation? Almost everyone I know who isn't an aviator thinks I'm nuts to fly around the countryside in a small aeroplane.

Haven't had that reaction, most are excited to go up.

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13 hours ago, turboplanner said:

most are excited to go up.

And people go to the car races for the crashes! Excitement is not necessarily related to safety.

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I wrote and posted this elsewhere. A private flight is a private flight, period.

 

Quote

Scene: A country road in outback New South Wales, three police cars are conducting random breathalyser checks. An SUV has just been flagged down for a breath test....


Officer: “Good morning, blow into the machine till I tell you to stop”.


Driver: (Blows into machine). “Morning Officer, is the reading OK?”


Officer: “You’re fine, by the way, your kid in the back seat is not looking very well”.


Driver: “Oh that’s not my kid, that’s a neighbours kid, Timmy, I’m taking him to Sydney for his chemo treatment, poor little fella.”

8
Officer: “What? Say that again.”


Driver: “Timmy has cancer, I’m taking him to hospital for his regular chemotherapy session, happens every month. His mother doesn’t have a car and can’t get anymore time off work either.”


Officer: Don’t you understand you’re breaking the law by doing this? You can’t take a patient to hospital except in an ambulance. I don’t see any flashing lights on your car, this doesn’t look like an ambulance.”


Driver: “It isn’t an ambulance , it’s just my Toyota. Timmy is strapped into his safety seat, what more do I need? We have water and some snacks and his painkiller medication, this is going to be a five hour drive.”


Officer: “You obviously don’t understand, the law says that only an ambulance can take a patient to hospital for treatment. It’s for safety! You don’t have emergency lights, siren, a flouro vest and a uniform, your not an accredited paramedic either”.


Driver: “But Timmy’s mother isn’t a parawhatsit either, if she had a car, couldn’t she drive him to hospital? Why not me? She doesn’t have the time and she’s not a very good driver as well.


Officer: “The law is quite clear. She can take him but you can’t. Don’t you understand? What you are doing is highly dangerous without being specially trained, in an ambulance, with a safety manual to follow and a procedures manual, operations manual and a log book and a mission statement. I should warn you, the penalties for this are severe. Your car tires look a bit scuffed as well.”


Driver: “ You mean I can take Timmy and a whole car load of screaming kids to McDonalds, Dreamworld or wherever and that’s OK, but if I want to take him to hospital I can’t?”


Officer: “Precisely(smiling). I see you understand. It would be far too dangerous to make that hospital trip.”


Driver: “Well this is crazy. I can do anything I like except help people. Not only that, me and my friends have been driving poor kids to doctors and hospitals for years without any trouble, but you now tell me it’s forbidden because it’s too dangerous? What is Timmy supposed to do if I’m not here - take non existent public transport? Hitchike?


Officer: “It sounds to me like you and your friends are engaged in a criminal conspiracy! Wait till my boss hears this! I should get a promotion for shutting you down. As for Timmy, the law doesn’t care what happens to him. All we care about is safety above everything else. If Timmy can’t travel to hospital then he can’t have an accident during the trip. The logic of the law is simple and unchallengeable. Now turn around and take the kid back home!”

 

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53 minutes ago, walrus said:

I wrote and posted this elsewhere. A private flight is a private flight, period.

 

 

A remarkable work of fiction; We won't worry about what the actual State Acts say, or even what the Good Samaritan Acts say.

For anyone interested, and I'm not suggesting anyone is, there is a warning in the Herald Sun in Melbourne today to beware of the stream of fake information that's likely to circulate around social media. One example they gave was a story of a man who was lynched just for carrying an Australian Flag on Australia Day.

Edited by turboplanner

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The problem is that CASA is only tasked with aviation safety. It does not have to take the big picture into account.

This could be fixed by forcing CASA to consider the total situation by enabling them to be held liable for the consequences of stopping flights which would otherwise have taken place. For example, if a patient, denied an angel flight, dies on the road.

In my opinion, the denying authority should not be free to operate without regard to any consequences of its actions. They should be held liable for the denial.

 

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From CASA's perspective, the big problem now is the ever increasing masses of drones flying about that could cause a GA plane to crash, occam's razor suggests that grounding every nonessential GA plane is the simplest way to achieve that safety rating. Imagine how dangerous rural airports are going to be for GA aircraft when you have hundreds autonomous agricultural drones coming and going on a 24/7 basis. CASA will be held responsible for this situation.

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1 hour ago, fly_tornado said:

From CASA's perspective, the big problem now is the ever increasing masses of drones flying about that could cause a GA plane to crash, occam's razor suggests that grounding every nonessential GA plane is the simplest way to achieve that safety rating. Imagine how dangerous rural airports are going to be for GA aircraft when you have hundreds autonomous agricultural drones coming and going on a 24/7 basis. CASA will be held responsible for this situation.

Somebody forgot to tell Occam.

As I recall the CASA plan announced today will require drones to have the same airspace compliance as everyone else, and to receive training Private operators will then pay for a licence at $20.00 per year, and commercial operators at $160.00 per year. I only got a glance at it, so you should do some checking if you fly a drone.

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online drone training ie a multiple choice quiz in which the answers to all the questions will be available 30 minutes after the site goes live

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On 2/2/2019 at 9:35 AM, turboplanner said:

What has happened has happened, and no one should be surprised.

No, I don't think anyone is surprised....That's the whole problem. Everyone could see that trainwreck called CASA coming ready to overreach what should be the limits in a free country.

Oh wait...we're not a free country, they can do whatever they want and they know we'll all just toe the line. Or else.....

 

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34 minutes ago, turboplanner said:

In both crashes innocent people have been killed here; their families will never see them again.

 

It happens every day. You can be reasonably certain they knew the risk, they just didn't think it could happen to them. Sad perhaps, but It doesn't justify stopping everyone else.

If you agree to get in that aircraft, you're not an innocent party.

 

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Ambulances crash at a much higher rate than passenger vehicles, its just the nature of being alive everything has risk

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9 hours ago, M61A1 said:

It happens every day.

The living go on living, and the living go on dying ......

At what point do we accept the risk?

Do we become so risk adverse that the nation comes to a standstill, because this is where the "safety (at all costs) industry" is sending us....

Do we sit in front of the tv, do nothing, grow obese and have a heart attack?  What an unfulfilling life.... but hey, it was safe!

We are at the point where major projects and infrastructure are so grossly expensive, they are hardly worth doing thanks to overreaching and excessive safety.

Other nations are striving ahead of us in leaps and bounds but our isolation and our (govt promoted) ignorance leave us in the dark.

 

And to the issue at hand. 2 accidents in 46 000 flights......Yes, unfortunate for those perished but I would call that a bloody good safety record.

No doubt Angel flight have put procedures in place to mitigate errors in both accidents and have learned from them.

Casa basically forcing them into uneconomical operations and by default shutting them down, is the typical sledge hammer approach which has earned them the ridicule they deserve.

 

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