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Recommendation issued to: Department of Transport and Regional Services

Recommendation details
Output No: R20040040
Date issued: 18 March 2004
Safety action status:
Background: Why this Recommendation was developed

Output text

Safety Recommendation

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that the Department of Transport and Regional Services, in conjunction with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, establish the safety benefits of the introduction of a drug and alcohol testing program to the Australian aviation industry for safety-sensitive personnel. Where possible, this program should harmonise with existing and evolving national and international regulations.

Initial response
Date issued: 01 June 2004
Response from: Department of Transport and Regional Services
Action status: Closed - Accepted
Response text:

The following response dated 25 May 2004 was received from the Department of Transport and Regional Services:

Thank you for your letter of 11 March 2004 enclosing a copy of Air Safety Investigation Report 200204328 on the accident involving a Piper PA-32-300 aircraft registered VH-MAR, which occurred at Hamilton Island Aerodrome, Queensland on 26 September 2002; and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's (ATSB) research report discussion papers, 'Cannabis and its Effects on Pilot Performance and Flight Safety: A Review', and 'Alcohol and Human Performance from an Aviation Perspective: A Review'.

I note that you request a response within 60 days of your letter, and I regret the delay in my reply.

In relation to the investigation report, I refer to recommendation 20040040 on page 58. As you are aware, the Minister has tasked the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and the Department to jointly review the possible safety benefits of the introduction of a drug and alcohol testing programme for the Australian aviation industry.

The terms of reference for this review have now been approved by the Minister and a copy is attached. Submissions have been invited from industry and the community in general by 30 June 2004, prior to a report being presented to the Minister by 30 September 2004.

Should you wish to raise this or any other relevant matters with the review team, please contact [name] on telephone [phone]; facsimile [fax]; or by e-mail at [email]. I encourage you to consider making a submission.

The response included the following details of the review:

On 18 March 2004, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released its accident investigation report relating to a fatal accident on Hamilton Island in September 2002. A finding of the report was that the possible adverse effects on pilot performance of fatigue, recent cannabis use, and post-alcohol impairment could not be discounted. In the report, the ATSB made a number of recommendations, with recommendations 20040039 and 20040040 relating to the Department of Transport and Regional Services (the Department) and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and jointly establishing the safety benefits of the introduction of a drug and alcohol testing program to the Australian aviation industry for safety-sensitive personnel. It was stated that where possible, this programme should harmonise with existing and evolving national and international regulations.

On 18 March 2004, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Hon John Anderson MP (the Minister), subsequently released a Media Release announcing that he supported the ATSB recommendations and that he had asked the Department and CASA to jointly develop terms of reference for a review of this issue.

Objectives

The aim of the review is to comprehensively examine the safety benefits of introducing a drug and alcohol testing programme for the Australian aviation industry. There is a clear case for carefully considering the best way to address the impacts of alcohol and drug use on aviation safety.

Membership

The review team will be drawn from the Department and CASA and will report regularly to a Steering Committee comprising the Department's Assistant Secretary, Aviation Operations, and the CASA's Executive Manager, Corporate Affairs.

Methodology

The review team will undertake an extensive review by way of formal research and consultation prior to preparing a report to the Minister by 30 September 2004.

Undertake Preliminary Analysis

In conducting the review, CASA and the Department will draw on information from the following sources:

the ATSB's Aviation Safety Investigation Report - 200204328, (Hamilton Island Aerodrome);
previous analysis undertaken by CASA;
information from other industries such as the petrochemical and food industries; and
international and Australian experiences in developing testing regimes.

Identify Issues and options

Issues that will need to be considered as part of the review will include but not be limited to the following:
whether testing would be on a random basis or a regular basis;
who would administer the testing process (CASA or industry);
whether testing should be part of a company's safety management system;
the need to define safety-sensitive personnel;
alternative and/or supplementary programs that are used for alcohol and drug management (eg mentoring, and differentiating between a regime for alcohol management which might need to be different to other drug management)
the costs involved with establishing programs (including education campaigns) and the ongoing testing regimes.

Preparation o f report

The review team will prepare a report at the conclusion on its evaluation of issues relating to drug and alcohol testing within the Australian aviation industry, and identifying any safety benefits of introducing a testing programme.

Consultation

It is proposed that the Australian aviation industry (particularly commercial operators), the Australian Passenger Safety Association, the Unions and other government agencies will be consulted to seek their views on this issue. Submissions will be called via a mail-out to major stakeholders and advertisements. In addition, these Terms of Reference will be posted on the Department's and CASA's websites so as to enable other interested parties to lodge submissions. Each submission received by the review team will be individually acknowledged.

Subject to their written consent, the contact details of persons/organisations who make submissions will be posted on the Department's and CASA's websites to enable interested parties to obtain a copy of a particular submission directly from the author of the submission.

Report

A report will be produced at the conclusion of this review and submitted to the Minister. Individuals and organisations consulted in its preparation will be noted in an Appendix to the Report, unless requested otherwise.

The report itself is expected to be freely available from the Department's and CASA's websites. Should the report lead to subsequent action to develop appropriate regulatory mechanisms, such action will be subject to extensive and well established consultative procedures, through CASA's Standards Consultative Committee (refer http:/irrp.casa.gov.au/scc).

Timing
Submissions will be called for by 1 May 2004 with a closing date of 30 June 2004.

The scheduled completion date for the review, including preparation of the report to the Minister, is 30 September 2004.

 
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Last update 01 April 2011