Mind the Gap

Mind the Gap: Probing Safety Doug Nancarrow IN A NEW e-book Allister Polkinghorne explores the reality of the industry’s safety culture. In the book, Mind the Gap, Polkinghorne says that aviation auditors have become increasingly concerned about ‘mud-guard’ aviation companies. By ‘mudguard’ we mean the ones that are shiny on top and rotten underneath. The systematisation approach taken by the aviation regulator for the last 20 years and the commercialization of safety auditing has been partially responsible for the changes. Competition, marketing avenues and multimedia have also contributed to a requirement to appear highly credible to an art form level in what is a relatively simple business of flying aircraft. Aviation has become incredibly safe. Aviation accidents have always been highly emotional and news-worthy. When a ship sinks, there are rarely good photo opportunities and the carnage is seldom visible. The opposite is the case with an aircraft accident. Usually there is wreckage strewn across a wide area, bodies are mangled and mutilated and peoples’ personal belongings are scattered like there has been some evil force preying on the lives of the victims. An aircraft accident scene is a media dream and gets covered accordingly. The work health and safety (WHS] industry has entrenched into law, requirements to provide a safe workplace. Where people are flying in their day-to- day work on other than regular public transport operations with reputable airlines, there is a perceived and often real aviation safety risk. WHS regulation requires that the level of safety risk be acceptable. The definition of what constitutes, ‘acceptable’ remains difficult for many organizations. There are widely varying levels of...

The purpose of an Operations Manual

An aviation company Operations Manual should be for the guidance of staff in the conduct of flying operations. However, public policy has changed to a place where regulators are extremely risk averse. Regulators try take an approach that limits their exposure to the possibility of any form of criticism in the event of an accident. The result is very prescriptive methods of compliance for regulation that is seen as ‘required’. In many instances, the safety case is slim… For example, the introduction of the new ATPL flight-tests. Back to the topic though – A second purpose of the Operations Manual is a device that allows the regulator to regulate. The introduction of safety management systems has opened the way for risk assessments and hazard identification followed by the matching of procedures that address the risk in a way that gives the operation’s hazard profile as low as reasonably practicable [ALARP]. In theory, if an aviation operator has identified and assessed its risks and matched them with suitable procedures to bring the risk profile to the ALARP level, then the operator should be operating in a regime that is as safe as possible. Such procedures should satisfy the regulator because a risk level and the ALARP can be demonstrated. However, CASA is in the cadre of risk averse regulators. As a result, a second we are yet to see an Operations Manual based on addressing the risk profile of the company. Operations Manuals required under Civil Aviation Regulation [CAR] 215 are ‘accepted’ as distinct from ‘approved’, despite the fact that CASA may give a direction requiring an operator to include...
Tighter search-and-rescue chopper rules ‘risk lives’

Tighter search-and-rescue chopper rules ‘risk lives’

Tighter search-and-rescue chopper rules ‘risk lives’ * THE AUSTRALIAN * AUGUST 22, 2014 12:00AM * Save for later Steve Creedy Aviation Editor Sydney https://plus.google.com/107158623429005505864 CASA says new standards would not vary greatly from current practices. Above, a Westpac rescue chopper. Picture: Michael Klein Source: News Corp Australia PROPOSED regulations tightening the rules applying to helicopters will cut the ability of some emergency services aircraft to carry out rescues or hospital transfers, an aviation specialist has warned. Aviation consultant and former Civil Aviation Safety Auth­ority project manager Allister Polkinghorne said provisions in Civil Aviation Safety Regulations parts 133 and 138 could see some helicopters currently used in rescue and ambulance operations permanently parked. CASR Part 133 covers air- transport operations for helicopters and part 138 covers aerial work. Along with part 91, they ­define how aircraft can be ­operated in situations such as flight over populous areas. CASA is considering moving ambulance operations into the air-transport regulations, but Mr Polking­horne has warned that this will have significant consequences for some police, ambulance or rescue-equipped chop-pers around the country. He said it would mean some hospital transfers currently under­taken by helicopters would not be allowed, the rescue fleet would be dramatically reduced and rescues which involved winching victims into single-­engine choppers would not be permitted. “Virtually every hospital heliport would be unavailable to anything except a helicopter with CAT A performance because the hospitals don’t have suitable forced landing areas on approach and departure paths,’’ Mr Polkinghorne said. “It will require bigger, noisier helicopters in noise and down-wash-sensitive areas. “Where a rescue is performed for an injured patient, for example, surf...