Many aviation incidents and all accidents are reportable to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) under the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003.
The ATSB receives over 8,000 occurrence reports every year. Information about these occurrences is recorded in an occurrence database. The flight crew involved may have their details recorded against an occurrence, but in the majority of cases (over 80 per cent of occurrence records) the details of the flight crew involved are not known, or not received by the ATSB. This can be due to reports being received from air traffic control or other third parties that do not know the details of the flight crew involved.
If a pilot has their name recorded against one or more occurrences in the ATSB database, this can mean a number of things, most of which do not imply any deficiency on the part of that pilot. For example:
- The pilot was involved in a technical failure that was appropriately handled
- The pilot’s aircraft had a birdstrike
- Another aircraft interfered with the pilot’s aircraft intended path
- Air traffic control provided incorrect instructions to the pilot’s aircraft
- The pilot was not the pilot in command and/or the pilot flying the aircraft.
In addition, Australian aviation has built up a healthy safety reporting culture over the years. This has resulted in most pilots openly reporting incidents and accidents to the ATSB. They do this because they understand that continual improvement in aviation safety is only possible through knowledge of what has gone wrong. Although safety occurrences are reportable under the Transport Safety Investigation Act, in reality, reporting is highly reliant on pilots and others in the industry reporting events involving them that would otherwise be unknown to have occurred by anyone else. In this sense, multiple occurrences recorded in the ATSB database for an individual pilot can be indicative of an individual who is safety orientated and willing to report occurrences involving themselves for the learning benefit of others.
Requesting a flight crew licence check
To receive a flight crew licence check report a licence holder must submit a completed Flight Crew Licence Check Request form to the ATSB. The request form must be signed by the flight crew licence holder and be accompanied by a certified true copy of the applicant's flight crew licence.
The copy of the applicant’s flight crew licence must be certified by a person prescribed under the Statutory Declarations Regulations 1993 and be annotated as follows:
I certify this to be a true copy of the original sighted by me.
The certification must include the name and signature of the person certifying the copy, together with the prescribed capacity, under the Statutory Declarations Regulations 1993, in which they are doing so.
A flight crew licence check request will normally be actioned within five working days from the date the application is received by the ATSB.
Limitations on use
Requests for flight crew licence checks will not be accepted from parties other than the identified flight crew licence holder. Similarly, the result of the check will only be provided directly to the applicant.
When a request is received, and in accordance with the applicant's rights under the Privacy Act 1988, the ATSB will conduct a search of its aviation occurrence database. The database contains a record of air safety occurrences that have been reported to the ATSB or its predecessors since 1969.
The ATSB considers that the use of the information provided in a flight crew licence check for any purpose other than the improvement of aviation safety is inappropriate. The ATSB advises against the use of this report for job selection purposes as involvement in, or a lack of involvement in, safety occurrences, generally does not reflect an individual’s airmanship.
Although the ATSB will take reasonable steps to assist with requests for flight crew licence checks, the Commonwealth and the ATSB do not accept any liability if a person is inaccurately identified or the information contains other errors of fact or interpretation.
To request a flight crew licence check
Submit an online Flight Crew Licence Check Request form to the ATSB.
Last update 18 March 2016