Mode Aviation
Reference No. AR201600096
Date reported 29 October 2016
Concern title Pre-flight preparation
Concern summary

The concern related to the pre-flight walk around inspection conducted by the operator’s flight crew

Industry / Operation affected Aviation: Air transport
Concern subject type Aviation: Flight crew

Reporter's concern

The reporter advised that on a number of occasions they have observed Cessna 208s, which are operated by [operator], landing/departing the [location 1] Airport with the tail stand (pogo stick) attached. On occasion, this happens on the aircraft that arrives from [location 2], which means the aircraft has flown for 1 hour 15 minutes with the tail stand attached.

The reporter advised that as this is occurring on a regular basis, there could be a systemic problem with the pre-flight (walk around) procedure.

Operator's response (Operator 1)

Last week we were made aware that a commercial competitor based at the airport, claimed to have sighted ‘one of [operator’s] caravans’ land at the [location 1] with the tailstand attached.

The reporter was unable to identify the aircraft registration, colour, date or time of any alleged event.

I personally checked with all of our crews who had flown C208s into that airport over the past few weeks. I then called the [location 1] Tower to enquire if they were aware of any such event in recent weeks. No issues have been reported to me and to the best of my ability I can confirm this has not occurred with one of our aircraft.

Utilising the direction of our company safety management system (SMS) we believe we have developed and grown a culture at [operator], which encourages our aircrews to report any issues in a responsible and timely manner, without fear of retribution. This culture allows us to grow as an organisation and work to continuously improve our processes and procedures, thereby reducing or eliminating the likelihood of reoccurrence.

That SMS process has enabled us to develop our procedures to the point whereby, drawing on 25 years of operational experience with Cessna C208s, we now have a mirror installed on the left hand wing of our company C208s. This mirror allows the aircrew to physically inspect the outside of the aircraft by sight from the pilot’s seat, prior to starting up. Additionally, the first component of our pre-taxi checks on our mandatory checklist states ‘Pod doors, hatches, tailstand’.

These operational improvements have evolved from previous crews, accessing the cockpit then on occasion being unable to recall if the tailstand has been stowed or the pod doors closed correctly, thereby requiring them to climb back out to confirm if the task has been completed. This improved mirror system and checklist item provides an immediate and virtually failsafe method of confirming that the outside of the aircraft is correctly closed up and secure, ready for flight.

I hereby reconfirm that our company definitely does not ‘regularly’ or ‘on a number of occasions’ operate our aircraft with the tailstand attached.

There is another operator of Cessna C208s that has been at the [location 1] in recent weeks.

Could it be possible this was mistaken for one of our six C208 Aircraft?

Might I suggest that if the REPCON ‘reporter’ has ‘previously observed this happening on a regular basis, pointing to a systemic error in our walk around procedures’….. does not then the reporter have a duty of care and responsibility to have reported such events when and after each of the alleged events occurred?

Regulator's response (Regulator 1)

CASA has reviewed the concerns raised in the REPCON and is satisfied with the operator’s response. During the review, CASA was unable to find evidence to support the allegations and has confirmed that the operator is compliant with regulation 232 of the Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 - Flight check systems.

ATSB comment

The operator advised that the following action had been taken since the report:

As an operator, we strongly believe we should learn from any suggestions or concerns raised, as to how we conduct our operations. During the process of analysing this report, we have found some additional suggestions towards several of our pre-flight and pre-taxing procedures that relate not only to tailstand use but also other areas, and have now implemented some small but useful relevant improvements to our operation, with the goal of making our procedures even more robust.

Last update 31 January 2017