Select Committee on Transport Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary memorandum submitted by Dr Graham Braithwaite, Director, Cranfield Safety and Accident Investigation Centre, Department of Air Transport, Cranfield University

  Further to the evidence which I presented to the Transport Committee on 25 January 2006, I wish to add a note of clarification to my answer to Q407, which was interrupted by Mr Leech and therefore left incomplete.

  Following its conversion to a Government Business Enterprise in the early 1990s, the Australian Civil Aviation Authority went through what was described to a subsequent House of Representatives Standing Committee on Transport, Communications and Infrastructure as the slash and burn period" of regulation. This period saw staff reduce from 7,332 in 1991 to 3,641 in 1996 (safety regulation went from 727 to 434).

  This change was followed by two high-profile, fatal aircraft accidents involving public transport aircraft; at Young in 1993 and en route to Lord Howe Island in 1994. The investigation into the former concluded that one of the significant factors leading to the accident was a difference between the corporate mission statement of the Authority, which placed a clear primacy on safe air travel, and that of the Safety Regulation and Standards Division which appeared to emphasise the viability of the industry as its major concern."

  Another accident in 1994, which involved a Boeing 747 aircraft landing at Sydney with its nose wheel retracted, further highlighted problems with regulatory oversight within the Civil Aviation Authority. Indeed the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation's report concluded that The organisational climate prevailing in the Civil Aviation Authority at the time was biased towards commercial considerations rather than ensuring regulatory compliance and safety."

  These events contributed to the separation of the CAA into Airservices Australia and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in 1995.

2 February 2006

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