Australian Pilots Say Bill Will Criminalize Pilots Decrease Air Safety <


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Australian Pilots Say Bill Will Criminalize Pilots Decrease Air Safety

By Antonio Percy

February 24, 2010 - The Australian parliament will soon vote on weather to add a new amendment to their Transport Security Act, known as the, “Aviation Transport Security Amendment Regulations.” Pilots and trade unions say if voted on in whole will only criminalize pilots and decrease air safety.

Many believe the Aviation Transport Security Amendment Regulations offer some sound legislation. However, there are two provisions within the bill that pilots and trade unions find unacceptable. Under section 4.67E of the Aviation Transport Security Amendment Regulations, it would prevent licensed pilots from accessing a flight deck if they are not on a company list and transfer safety breaches of the cockpit from airlines to the pilots.

In essence if the captain or other pilots fail to lock the cockpit door during flight, or an ineligible person enters and or remains in the cockpit during flight, the pilots would be in violation of the Aviation Transport Security Amendment Regulations under section 4.67E of the regulations if enacted.

Australian and International Pilots Association (AIPA) President Captain Barry Jackson said of most concern was the potential exclusion of licensed company pilots from the list of people who could travel on the flight deck of their company’s aircraft, as well as the shift of criminal responsibility from the airlines to the pilot in command for safety breaches.

“Shifting criminal responsibility to the pilot in command undermines a long held aviation principle that the airline is ultimately responsible for the actions of its pilots….. Any other approach risked allowing airlines to claim they were blameless for accidents and incidents,” Captain Barry Jackson said.

The association had commissioned an independent risk specialist to investigation the regulation’s premise that pilots travelling in flight deck jump seats were a safety and security threat. “The results of this detailed, independent study clearly found that having an additional licensed pilot on the flight deck enhanced safety and security, which is hardly surprising, because if you can’t trust pilots on the flight deck, who can you trust,” Captain Barry Jackson said.


A review of overseas aviation practices was conducted with pilot association representatives from the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Germany, Portugal, Greece, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Norway, China and Israel regarding the respective airline aviation authority provisions on access to the flight deck.

The review revealed section 4.67E of the Aviation Transport Security Amendment Regulations would be a significant departure from global safety practices. That is, airlines have always been responsible for the actions of their pilots. Having other pilots sit in the jump seat weather on-duty or off-duty pilots or those suitable for entry into the cockpit was appropriate. Data provided by pilots association here in the United States lists multiple instances where having a pilot in the jump seat had important positive safety outcomes.

Senator Xenophon (South Australia) stated, “Put simply, the proposal will not make our skies safer; it will make air travel more dangerous. Further, the Australian pilots association has provided information that confirms 14 nations, which I have listed, allow jump-seat access for pilots. Unfortunately, we cannot amend this legislative instrument to add a new category of current off-duty pilots. This leaves us with the only option to disallow this regulation and call on the government to introduce it in a more appropriate form. The government will no doubt respond by saying that this will mean that we will revert back to the old system for the next six months."

“That is the not case. The fact is that, if the government wants to bring back a new regulation, if it wants to do so with the consent of the Senate, it can do so. It can fix this up by consulting with pilots and by consulting with the experts who know and with whom we entrust our safety."

“However, if the new instrument is substantially different, as I believe it must be, it could be reintroduced immediately. My understanding of Senate procedure is that we can rescind this regulation and deal with it and not be fettered by the six-month rule in relation to it. I would support the government if it chose to bring back a suitable legislative instrument, and I also strongly urge my colleagues to support rescinding the six-month rule."

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