Annual Review 2002


The ATSB Annual Review 2002 documents ATSB's achievements and safety activities from 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002 and outlines its business planning for 2002-2003

Executive Directors message

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has made significant progress since it began on 1 July 1999 as an operationally independent body within the Commonwealth Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS).

During 2001-02, the ATSB assisted the Minister for Transport and Regional Services to develop new legislation that would enable the Bureau to investigate rail accidents on the increasingly important interstate system. The legislation also updates and harmonises the Bureaus aviation and marine investigative powers. Introduced into parliament on 20 June 2002, the Transport Safety Investigation Bill 2002 (TSI Bill) passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support on 24 September and is currently before the Senate. The Bureau is also involved with the drafting of associated Regulations and proposed memoranda of understanding with key stakeholders.

The Bureau revised its investigator work-level standards and developed an internal competency-based Diploma in Transport Safety Investigation, for which national tertiary accreditation has been granted for five years. The Diploma will help validate that ATSB investigators have reached a minimum competency standard before assuming more senior responsibilities.

The federal industry minister asked the ATSB to investigate, under the Space Activities Act, an accident involving the first HyShot rocket launch at Woomera. The launch was to test a University of Queensland scramjet, a world-leading project in the race for faster passenger transport. The Bureaus investigation of the October 2001 launch and its final report and recommendations led to important changes before a reportedly highly successful second launch.

The ATSB has continued to monitor and report on road safety progress under the National Road Safety Strategy framework approved by ministers of the Australian Transport Council (ATC). It has worked closely with state and territory transport agencies, and other major stakeholders, through the National Road Safety Strategy Panel. Toward the end of the financial year, the Bureau, aided by a panel of distinguished road safety experts, formed a task force to develop an Action Plan for 2003 and 2004. The national road fatality rate, which stood at nine deaths per 100 000 population in calendar year 2001, has plateaued since about 1997 and the new Action Plan will seek to substantially cut the road toll. ATC approved the Plan on 8 November 2002.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Senator the Hon. Ron Boswell, released several ATSB research reports and a number of other road safety publications throughout the year. Two important studies concerned speed risks. ATSB research findings on the links between travel speed and road trauma have been widely cited in policy papers produced by other agencies (both in Australia and overseas) and have supported a number of major public education campaigns on speed. The Bureau also released reports on motorcycle fatalities and on driveway deaths. ATSB researchers have a special interest in fatigue issues and are working to improve national injury data as well as data on heavy-vehicle safety.

The ATSB continued to participate in rail-safety investigations at the invitation of state governments. Since 1999, the Bureau has undertaken or taken part in nine investigations. Most of these were in Victoria, but others have involved WA, NSW, Queensland and SA. Investigations have brought about important safety changes, including to operational practices and to legislation. In cooperation with state rail regulators, the Bureau has also created a national rail occurrence database with a concise set of key statistical rail safety indicators for the calendar year 2001. Ongoing discussions with state rail regulators are directed to extending the databases coverage of safety occurrences, harmonising definitions and incorporating pre-2001 data.

In 200102, marine reports released included investigations of groundings and collisions between ships and fishing vessels. Recognising the international nature of the shipping industry, the ATSB has continued to actively support the work of the International Maritime Organization, where it has addressed topics such as lifeboat safety and vessel fires, and to provide marine investigation and safety training. Captain Kit Filor continued as chair of the Marine Accidents International Investigators Forum (MAIIF).

The ATSB released 118 final air safety investigation reports in the past financial year thereby reducing its investigation report backlog from 125 to 90. Major reports included:

  • the Whyalla Airlines VH-MZK Piper Chieftain accident with eight fatalities

  • the Beech Super King Air 200 VH-SKC ghost flight fatal accident which followed the incapacitation of the pilot and seven passengers

  • a serious incident involving loss of control during one engine inoperative training in a Beech 1900D airliner.

The Bureau continued to investigate maintenance problems involving Ansetts 767 fleet and Class A aircraft, as well as a fatal accident involving the WA Police AirWing at Newman. It also helped the Aviation Safety Council of Taiwan investigate a major Singapore Airlines SQ006 747 fatal accident. The President of Taiwan acknowledged the Bureaus contribution when he opened the International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI) forum in October 2002. Aviation outputs also included CAIR reports, recommendations and safety notices, as well as articles in magazines such as Flight Safety Australia. The Bureau further developed its website and now receives more than four million hits each year.

When the Secretary reorganised the Department in January 2002, the Bureaus previous federal Black Spot and vehicle recall functions transferred to more appropriate divisions within DOTARS. I thank the staff involved for their contributions to the ATSB. I particularly wish to acknowledge Adrian Beresford-Wylie, who left the Bureau for a senior DOTARS position in September 2002. As a branch head, Adrian made a great contribution to the Bureau and to Australian road safety. I am pleased to welcome Joe Motha who has taken on Adrians former role.

I am grateful to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Hon. John Anderson, to our Parliamentary Secretary, Senator the Hon. Ron Boswell, and to the Department Secretary Mr Ken Matthews, for their support throughout the year. The ATSB is passionate about its role in contributing to safe transport and on behalf of the ATSBs hardworking staff, I affirm that the Bureau looks forward to meeting the challenges of 2002-03 and beyond in all four transport modes.

Kym Bills

Type: Annual Report
Publication date: 19 October 2002
ISBN: 1877071226
ISSN: 14444798
Last update 07 April 2014
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