ATSB letter to Angel Flight to reconsider their response
Thank you for your response to the above ATSB safety recommendation. The response, received via email on 29 September, indicated that the recommendation had been considered and rejected, and that Angel Flight Australia had determined that the current policy would be maintained. The ATSB Commission have considered this response, and would like to provide you a further opportunity to consider your response.
The reasons outlined for the decision by Angel Flight to maintain its current policy of giving priority to private flights where possible do not address the evidence on which the recommendation was made.
As outlined in the final investigation report, that evidence centred on that commercial passenger flights have an established lower safety risk for passengers than private operations. The reasons stated in your response only addressed your disagreement with other evidence in the ATSB final report concerning the relative safety of Angel Flights and other private operations.
The ATSB Commission believes that Angel Flight should firstly consider the safety of Angel Flight passengers. Regional and rural people should not be exposed to unnecessary levels of risk as a passenger on a private community service flight, and as such, Angel Flight should consider the safer option as the primary option, where available, before considering private operations.
The ATSB Commission is therefore asking you to reconsider your response to the safety recommendation.
The ATSB investigation showed that commercial passenger flight options are available for a considerable percentage of the private flights organised by Angel Flight. As a charity established to transport people without the means to medical appointments, the ATSB considers that Angel Flight could and should include the fact that commercial passenger flights have a lower safety risk to passengers than private operations as a factor when they are organising flights.The ATSB acknowledges that there will be passengers who cannot travel on regular public transport, and that there are times and locations where it is not available or suitable. However, in the case of the accident flight, no consideration was given to the safety benefits of using the available RPT, nor were the comparative costs considered. It is unlikely that any of the considerations previously outlined by Angel Flight (cost, passenger needs, flight locations and timing) would have prevented the use of a commercial flight.
In accordance with our protocols, we will publish the received response and Angel Flight’s position on the safety recommendation. However, prior to publication, I am offering you a further opportunity to reconsider the safety recommendation.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you would like to discuss this response to the safety recommendation.
In closing, please allow me to reiterate that the ATSB considers the conduct of community service flights demonstrates selfless concern for others less fortunate requiring medical treatment from regional and rural Australia. It is our purpose however, to improve transport safety. The ATSB continues to encourage the consideration of the safety benefits of using commercial flights where they are available.