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The Sunday Brunch Gazette.
#91
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Times up for Pel_air MkII via Google images

What will a Quarter buy you?

Not too much these days – unless it’s a quarter million. Carefully spent, in the right place, it can buy you a lot of ‘assistance’ with your small problems. Not in Australia of course – No Sir; not a chance. The best you could hope for here that ‘mate-ship’ or old favours are repaid in kind; or, perhaps an old marker is paid in full. A blatant Baksheesh attempt will land you in hot water. This all makes it difficult to investigate a ‘passing strange’ series of events, then to make it even harder, there is the entrenched culture of ‘say-nothing’. For to speak up places you at the mercy of those about whom you speak, while others shun you.


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IF you wake at midnight, and hear a horse's feet,
Don't go drawing back the blind, or looking in the street,
Them that ask no questions isn't told a lie.
Watch the wall my darling while the Gentlemen go by. - Rudyard Kipling


So for the investigator or even the curious, non partisan person with an itch to scratch, getting to the roots of as puzzle is a long, weary road. P2, myself and others became fascinated by the arrival of nine documents to the Pel-Air inquiry. Nine files in a virtual avalanche of ‘paper’ provided, by the truck load to the investigating Senate Committee. When you begin to try and unravel a puzzle, there are shed loads of ‘paper’ to wade through and it gets ‘messy’; almost impossible for a casual reader to follow. However, if you persist, go back to the beginning – several times – re-hash it all; then spend hours shouting at each other to reach a consensus, you can (eventually) emerge at the end of the journey with a fairly clear picture of events. ‘We’ started to get a handle on certain things about – HERE – when P2 touched on Safety Management Systems (SMS) which included Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS). We became particularly interested in the FRMS element and the ‘cloud’ surrounding some assessments offered. One thing the majority of the network agreed on – that the Pel-Air crew were in no condition to fly the return sectors.  



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“It is the knowledge of the unendingness and of the repetitious uselessness, the do it up so it can be done again, that makes Fatigue fatigue.” -  James JonesFrom Here to Eternity


The next milestone on the journey –HERE – but before you venture into that maze – take the time to consider – THIS – before hand; it will save some head scratching when you arrive – HERE -.


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"Toughen up princesses"


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“The real milestones are less prepossessing. They come to the door of memory unannounced, stray dogs that amble in, sniff around a bit and simply never leave. Our lives are measured by these.” ― Susan B. Anthony


Nearly done – in P2’s Part IV there are more breadcrumbs to be followed – but if you run out of patience or time – skip to the bottom and consider the implications from the following paragraph and the listed documents:-

P2 - “To set the scene for answering my (above) QON, here are some document links for the NINE ( 9 - anonymously provided) Senate AAI inquiry documents, which were 'received' by the RRAT committee Secretariat on the 10 October 2012 i.e. 12 days before the first public hearing”.

I could, I expect, sit here and spoon feed you the information, just like ATSB and CASA do for whoever is in the ministerial seat, once it has been tested for poisons and carefully seasoned by ‘the department’ to make it palatable. Nick Xenophon and his small crew aren’t lazy, nor are they gullible; they triggered events through the Pilot training inquiry - which, IMO, had a great impact on the Pel-Air inquiry, right from the beginning. Those  which have continued on and on, right up to the carefully deceptive ‘New’ report on the radical causes of the Pel-Air ditching. Pivotal items which are mentioned – in passing; just enough to say ‘we covered that’ but not enough depth to raise any eyebrows being the stand out parts of the whole confection.

The casual reader will have abandoned the breadcrumb trail ages back, eyes glazed and early Massive Interest Failure (MIF) onset leading to other more easily understood topics; which is fine by me. However; there will be some readers who really need to buckle down and do their homework – if for no other reason but self protection. For the FRMS is the very thin end of a very hefty wedge, which will be driven in hard, by the biggest hammer we can find.

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“Sometimes what you think is an end is only a beginning. And that wouldn't do at all.”Agatha Christie, Death Comes as the End

Dick Smith and the media have picked up sticks for the beleaguered Falcon Air; “an act of sheer bastardry” they have labelled it; and, rightly so. But they have only, quite politely scratched the surface of ‘acts of sheer bastardry’, particularly in relation to the CASA office involved. It is not the only ‘office’ with a chequered history, indeed, many tales are whispered in bars and discussed on flight decks – some of the tales are the stuff of legend and used to frighten newcomers, control those affected and retain the myth that CASA can and will crucify those who dare to step out of line. Of course it depends on who you are – CASA leave the ‘big boys’ strictly alone, whilst they cosset their mates. But to balance that largesse they lay in wait to pounce on whoever they choose using extreme interpretations of ‘black letter’ law, with the full knowledge that few can take ‘em on and win a game of chance, against a stacked deck.


[Image: dick-e1515283968119.jpg]Life-saving heart transplant prevented due to ‘air safety technicality’ - Alan Jones 2GB


I know, I keep banging on about reforming, not restructuring the Regulator. But until this happens and the lessons driven home, firmly, then nothing, absolutely nothing will save the industry. The problems are internal and attributable to the ‘individuals’ who protect and foster the culture of selective bastardy used to support the unsupportable. Has Barnaby got the balls to sort it out, once and for all? He is a ‘leader’ of this nation; in times of real trouble, the country looks to it’s governments leaders for solutions. Well, IMO, we are teetering on the brink of the abyss with the cavalry tied up by red tape. Barnaby has the option and the call – Hero or just another useless hack, poncing about in a ministerial suit, being led about by the foreskin until it is all too little, too late.

Arggh enough. Anyway, it is Sunday – day of rest they say. Unless you happen to be one of the ‘essential services’ on duty. While the majority are setting up to enjoy the days events, there are police, ambulance and fire services on deck, ready to go and face the horror of tragedy. They did very well for us on the Hawkesbury River last week, while the rest enjoyed NYE there were divers in the river, alone, faced with the task of recovering the bodies of those killed in the crash.  The 'services' have had a busy year with aviation related fatal accidents. A simple Well done and Thank you seems to be a pitiful reward for their brave, dedicated, selfless efforts. But it is heartfelt and most sincere.

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Now: Workshop therapy required, keeping up with the research is work enough, but to try and beat it into some easily digested nutshell is exhausting. Perhaps a second coffee, a cigar purloined from a dinner party (smoke it later excuse) to keep me company while I walk the dogs will knit the ravell'd sleeve of care; it usually does. Then; I can finish the Oak tool-box which will take me to afternoon tea in the garden. Sounds like a plan to me.

Toot – toot…


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#92
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Runway excursion - Boeing Co 747-438, VH-OJH, Bangkok Airport, Thailand, 23 September 1999

A candle, against darkness?

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What a monstrous, dangerous, nebulous beast Fatigue is. No matter what approach you take ;or, how good the ‘research’ is, the individual human element cannot be totally eliminated. You can see the problem – an outfit like Qantas with hundreds of pilots and schedules to keep must address many problems, in several important legal and operational areas, before even scratching the surface of union and individual preferences. One size don’t fit all and what makes one man weary to the point of being ineffective, may be a stroll in the park to the next. Even the ‘experts’ disagree on some of the major premises and base building blocks. Yet the problem exists and it is very real. A 17 hour long haul is a very different animal to the short haul, high frequency inter-city services, which is different again to the 24 standby roster for ‘charter’ operators; and different again for folk like the RFDS who man a station 24/7 when a shout may come at any tick of the clock. Since 2003 the ‘fatigue’ debate has been raging, that’s 15 years by my reckoning. CASA have buggered about the edges but achieved very little except CAO 48.1 which is a complex hodgepodge of compromise and ignorance. FRMS has been a ‘on again - off again’ soubriquet, often abused, incorrectly used, misunderstood system. Perhaps it is time there was a serious indaba called, no one gets out of the room until a proper regulatory policy, free of business and union influence was developed; one for each ‘branch’ of industry. Spend some of their ill gotten gains on expert opinion (we do have some) and come up with a plan which may be modified to suit operations – but within qualified maximum and minimum limits for the different operations. Such a policy would never please all – but at least it would provide a sensible place to begin addressing a burgeoning problem, which cannot be ignored for too much longer, not by men of good conscience, with the safety of the travelling public at heart.  


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“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure”.Abraham Lincoln



Foreign pilots – when Australian pilots are unemployed – WTD. This has to be one of the greatest faery stories ever told; Australia is not and I do repeat not short of ‘pilots’. We may well be short of the cardboard cut out model HR require; or, of the ‘right’ type to suit a CASA bound C&T system; or even the right type with a reputation tarnished by gossip. I could, without any trouble whatsoever put together a dozen crews, give ‘em a type rating and have ‘em running like a Swiss watch within a month – and that’s just from the pub. There are dozens who have left industry unable to get jobs and gain ‘experience’; there must be over a hundred sitting around in the bush, flying ‘charter’ and living on a minimum wage. One chap I know well is a very good operator, plenty of the ‘right’ stuff but has little in the way of the surface skills HR seem to require; rock solid but can he get a start? Can he hell. Anyway – it’s BOLLOCKS; we ain’t short of pilots we are short of independent operators who can see beyond the next audit and the CASA frowns and the HR bullshit. End of, before I get cranky.  


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“The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see”Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead



Well, much of the week has been taken up researching and analysing the Pel-Air debacle. The backyard is a mess and P2 keeps pulling the old bones out of the garbage can for one last chew.

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There is a daunting pile of these, now we must get out the super glue and stick it all back together and see what manner of beasty we have unearthed. Like palaeontologists do; clean up the parts, assemble them, start at one end and finish at ‘tuther. From the long buried skeleton, muscle and sinew may be added, the outer skin stretched over the whole and the beast will emerge to frighten the children. It has been quite a dig, the ground unyielding and reluctant to part with it’s secrets. Even so, we are nearly done – although I must admit, I’m at a loss to know what to do with it. DT will not allow it in the house and the workshop just ain’t big enough. No matter, finish first then think on what to do with it all.



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“I have a different idea of elegance. I don't dress like a fop, it's true, but my moral grooming is impeccable. I never appear in public with a soiled conscience, a tarnished honour, threadbare scruples, or an insult that I haven't washed away. I'm always immaculately clean, adorned with independence and frankness. I may not cut a stylish figure, but I hold my soul erect. I wear my deeds as ribbons, my wit is sharper than the finest moustache, and when I walk among men I make truths ring like spurs.” Edmond RostandCyrano de Bergerac



But not today; the dogs have departed the fix – I made the mistake of putting the dog shampoo out on the workshop bench earlier; Ayup, bath day. I shall finish my second coffee, find my boots and toddle off to see if I can find them. Bath day is quite often missed as they always find a quiet, shady spot to lay low in and I am often tempted to linger with them until it is too late to ‘do the deed’ – all I really need is a good excuse for non performance. Hmmm, let me count the ways.

Toot toot.


P2 - For a laugh...



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