Coulson Aviation did not provide a pre-flight risk assessment for their fire-fighting large air tanker crews. This would provide predefined criteria to ensure consistent and objective decision-making with accepting or rejecting tasks, including factors relating to crew, environment, aircraft and external pressures.
To be advised
In September 2021, Coulson Aviation advised the ATSB that they had introduced a flight risk assessment tool into their fixed-wing aerial firefighting operations to be completed, at a minimum, prior to the first tasking of the day.
The ATSB acknowledges that Coulson Aviation introduced a pre-flight risk assessment tool into their fixed-wing operations. However, this tool did not consider all foreseeable external factors that could elevate the risk of a flight, such as weather-related task rejections or cancellations by others, which was considered the highest risk factor by the Helicopter Association International. Without this factor, the overall risk profile for a tasking, or essentially the safety of the flight, could be underestimated by crews. Therefore, as it is critical that crews can differentiate between a low-risk and high‑risk flight in the already elevated risk environment of aerial firefighting, the ATSB issues the following safety recommendation to Coulson Aviation to take further action to reduce the risk of this safety issue to low as reasonably practicable.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau recommends that Coulson Aviation take further action to incorporate foreseeable external factors into their pre-flight assessment tool to ensure the overall risk profile of a tasking can be consistently assessed by crews.