Annual Review 2003


The ATSB Annual Review 2003 documents ATSB's achievements and safety activities from 1 July 2002 to 30 June 2003 and outlines its business planning for 2003-2004

Executive Director's message

During 2002-03, the ATSB assisted the Minister for Transport and Regional Services with new legislation to enable the Bureau to investigate rail accidents on the increasingly important interstate system. The Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 (TSI Act) also updates and harmonises the Bureau's aviation and marine investigative powers. The Transport Safety Investigation Regulations 2003 were also finalised this year following industry consultation and commenced together with the TSI Act on 1 July 2003.

In 2002-03 the ATSB further developed its website which contains the new legislation and all ATSB reports, recommendations, and key safety information and receives more than five million hits' each year.

In August 2002, the Bureau received national tertiary accreditation for five years for its internal competency-based Diploma in Transport Safety Investigation. The Diploma will validate that ATSB investigators have reached a minimum competency standard linked to investigator work level standards.

The ATSB has worked closely with state and territory transport agencies and other major stakeholders, through the National Road Safety Strategy Panel, and coordinated the development of a National Road Safety Action Plan for 2003 and 2004. The Action Plan was endorsed by Australian Transport Council (ATC) Ministers in November 2002 and covers priority areas including more effective speed management, expansion of road-based treatments, enhanced drink-driving deterrence, and measures to reduce fatigue-related harm. The Action Plan seeks to accelerate progress towards reducing the national road fatality rate by 40 per cent by 2010.

Senator Ron Boswell in his role as Parliamentary Secretary, released a number of well-received ATSB research and statistical reports and a number of other road safety publications throughout the year. A special analysis of fatal crashes over the Christmas/New Year holiday period was undertaken at the request of the Minister. The ATSB also worked closely with the National Road Transport Commission to develop a heavy vehicle safety strategy which was approved by ATC Ministers in May 2003.

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 14 investigations. Most have been in Victoria but others have involved WA, NSW, Queensland and SA. Investigations have brought about important safety changes including to operational practices, infrastructure and regulation. The ATSB highlighted the potential inadequacies with deadman's handle' braking devices in the event of driver incapacitation in its Footscray and Epping reports.

In 2002-03, the 13 marine reports released included the October 2002 report of a ballast tank explosion on the Hong Kong registered Nego Kim with eight fatalities. Its recommendations led to both operator safety action and broader recommendations for improved safety procedures for future painting and similar work in enclosed spaces.

The ATSB released 78 final air safety investigation reports during 2002-03. A major report on maintenance problems with the Ansett Boeing 767 fleet has been especially well received in Australia and internationally and has been nominated for an international air safety award. The Bureau was pleased that in many cases safety action was undertaken obviating a need for a recommendation. Most recommendations made also led to positive safety action.

At the invitation of the East Timor Government the ATSB is leading an investigation into the fatal crash of an Ilyushin IL-76TD aircraft near Baucau, East Timor in a joint investigation with the Australian Defence Force and in cooperation with Russian investigators.

The findings on 12 September 2002 of a WA Coronial inquest into a charter accident involving Beech King Air VH-SKC included some criticisms of the ATSB. While the Bureau accepted that in hindsight there were areas it could improve upon in future investigations if additional resources were applied, other criticisms were not accepted, including criticism of the basis for independent ATSB noblame investigations under Annex 13 to the Chicago Convention.

A Coronial inquest into the accident involving Whyalla Airlines Piper Chieftan VH-MZK commenced hearings on 22 July 2002 and the SA State Coroner delivered his findings on 24 July 2003. The process also involved civil damages litigation in the US and required substantial Bureau resources to be diverted from other safety priorities. The ATSB formally reopened its VH-MZK investigation after the US engine manufacturer issued a service bulletin in September 2002 which included MKZ's left crankshaft. The ATSB will deliver a supplementary investigation report later in 2003.

During the year the Bureau continued to liaise with and seek to improve cooperation and mutual understanding with coroners around Australia and this remains a priority for 2003-04 based on the ATSB's new legislative framework. The ATSB is reliant on coroners to assist with forensic and pathology testing.

I am again 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. I also acknowledge the bipartisan support the ATSB has received for its safety work and in the course of the passage of the TSI Act.

Kym Bills

Type: Annual Report
Publication date: 17 October 2003
ISBN: 1877071390
ISSN: 14444798
Last update 07 April 2014
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