Aviation safety issues and actions

South-west operations guidance

Issue number: AO-2018-078-SI-01
Issue owner: Airlines of Tasmania
Transport function: Aviation: Air transport
Background: Investigation Report AO-2018-078
Issue release date: 20 December 2021
Current issue status: Closed – Adequately addressed
Issue status justification:

Airlines of Tasmania has substantially increased the amount of documented evidence provided to the pilots operating to the south-west. This includes a new procedure added to the operations manual, additional documented requirements into the training syllabus, additional tools to assist the pilots with planning and further guidance in the safety management system around weather assessment criteria and seeking further guidance when required.

Safety issue description

Airlines of Tasmania did not provide any documented guidance for the south-west operations, despite encouraging pilots to commence the flight, even when forecasts indicated they may be likely to encounter adverse weather en route. This resulted in the pilots having varied understanding of the expectations regarding in‑flight weather‑related decision making at the Arthur Range saddle, and increased the risk that some pilots continued into an area of high terrain in marginal conditions, where options to escape were limited.

Proactive action

Action number: AO-2018-078-NSA-061
Action organisation: Airlines of Tasmania [Par Avion]
Action status: Closed

Airlines of Tasmania have introduced a new procedure as an appendix to the operations manual, which provided specific guidance on operations to the south-west. This included new, specific visibility requirements for pilot’s using the direct route through the portals.

The operator has also introduced a documented training syllabus to ensure new pilots operating to the south-west are exposed to a range of weather conditions and routes during their training. They also continue to ‘closely supervise all south-west operations through observation, conversations, Spidertracks and safety reporting’. The paper based in-command under-supervision (ICUS) record system was also replaced by an online system. This provides greater monitoring of ICUS pilot progress, with defined units of competency, which must be completed before new pilots were checked to line.

In addition, the operator has made a commitment to discuss in-flight weather-related decision making at their monthly meetings and emphasise that there is no pressure to continue a flight if it is not safe to do so. It has also been made clear to pilots that weather diversions were also required to be submitted into the safety management system with weather details attached. 

The operator has also committed significant resources into installing technologies to assist with flight planning and oversight of its operations. This has included:

  • Installation of a new high definition 360° webcam at the Bathurst Harbour aeroplane landing area.
  • The planned installation of webcams at key locations around the state, including at government owned assets, and a public promotion to increase webcam coverage.
  • Installation of ADS-B ground receivers at a number of locations, including a planned site within the Southwest National Park. Further discussions are ongoing for options near the portals, and other remote locations.
Last update 20 December 2021