The ATSB Annual Review documents ATSB's achievements and safety activities from 1 July 2003 to 30 June 2004 and outlines its business planning for 2004-2005.

Executive Director's message

The ATSB had a busy and productive year in 2003-04 in all modes.

In its aviation activities,the ATSB released 63 investigation reports including important reports on fatal accidents at Hamilton Island, Bankstown, Moorabbin and Toowoomba and on a Saab 340 serious icing incident near Bathurst. The Bureau generated 46 air safety recommendations including those arising from the Hamilton Island investigation, on Robinson helicopter blades, and concerning the National Airspace System following a close proximity serious incident near Launceston.

The ATSB marine unit released 17 reports including on the Doric Chariot and the Star Sea Bridge accidents and also completed two reports on Sydney ferry accidents. ATSB rail outputs included an important investigation report into the Spencer Street, Melbourne 'runaway' train accident and into a level crossing accident at Aloomba in Queensland. The ATSB's twentytwo 2003-04 road safety research and statistical reports included important reports on vehicle conspicuity and rural speed.

Using new 2003-04 Budget funding, the ATSB prepared and released 10 aviation research and analysis reports, developed a new rail safety investigation database (RIASIS) on time and under budget, initiated five new rail investigations on the Defined Interstate Rail Network, and established a new marine non-mandatory confidential safety reporting scheme.

During 2003-04, the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003 (TSI Act) and Regulations applied to all new ATSB investigations in aviation, marine and interstate rail modes. Gratifyingly, there were no major problems encountered with the new legislation.

The ATSB continued to release all of its significant safety outputs to the public and hits on the ATSB website again increased to an annual rate of around eight million by the end of the financial year.

Steady progress was made with jurisdictions and stakeholders on road safety but with great challenges remaining to meet or better the 2010 target of no more than 5.6 road deaths per 100,000 population and to reduce serious injuries. A particular highlight was the release of a substantial road safety publication to mark World Health Day on 7 April 2004.

On 10 November 2003, the major ATSB aviation investigation report on maintenance problems with the Ansett Boeing 767 fleet received the Flight Safety Foundation's prestigious Cecil A. Brownlow publication award at a ceremony in Washington DC. The ATSB completed the investigation into the fatal crash of an Ilyushin IL76 aircraft near Baucau in a joint investigation on behalf of East Timor with the Australian Defence Force and in cooperation with Russian investigators. The report was released on the ATSB website after the East Timor Cabinet and senior officials had been briefed by the ATSB.

The backlog of old marine investigation reports was reduced and the number of investigations on hand at 30 June 2004 was nine compared with 19 a year earlier. Unfortunately, similar progress was not made in aviation because of other pressures and constraints, including preparation for a major audit undertaken by ICAO.

The Bureau's 2003-04 achievements, including with its additional 2003-04 Federal Budget funding for new aviation safety research, rail investigation and confidential marine reporting activities, were necessarily constrained by a 10.7 percent budget reduction applied to all groups as part of the Department's 'work out/work up' strategy. However, reflecting the Government's clear priority for the ATSB's work, the Department's Executive decided to exempt ATSB from the further round of planned Budget reductions which was required across the remainder of the Department in 2004-05. The Bureau was grateful for Federal Budget funding announced in May 2004 to ease pressures in aviation investigation and to enable replacement of the OASIS aviation safety database.

During the year the Bureau continued to liaise with and seek to improve cooperation and mutual understanding with Coroners around Australia and agreed the terms of a template memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Coroner's representative, the Chief Magistrate of Tasmania, Mr Arnold Shott, with whom an MoU was signed in June.

A number of valued staff members retired during the year or prior to publication of this Review. I acknowledge in particular the contributions of Chris Brooks in road safety, Nick Rutherford in marine investigation and Rob Graham in leading safety investigations and work on IT systems.

I am grateful to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, the Hon. John Anderson and to the Secretary of the Department of Transport and Regional Services, Mr Ken Matthews, for their support throughout the year. It was also a pleasure working with Minister Campbell on road safety prior to his elevation to Cabinet in July 2004 and replacement by Minister Lloyd. The ATSB was again grateful for the bipartisan support it received for its safety work. The ATSB's ongoing effective role as the Australian Government's primary transport safety investigator remains reliant on both the perceptions and reality of its independence, fairness and professionalism.

Kym Bills

Publication Mode
Publication date
Publication type
Review Date
Subject Matter