THE airline whose commuter plane
crashed in Queensland earlier this month, killing 15
people, had been audited just two months before, the
Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) said today.
A pilot, maintenance expert, dangerous goods inspector
and a cabin safety inspector had audited TransAir
between February and March this year, CASA told a senate
The TransAir Fairchild Metroliner III commuter plane
crashed into a hillside on approach to Lockhart River in
far north Queensland on May 7, killing all 13 passengers
and its two pilots.
The airline's air operator certificate (AOC) was
reissued on April 14, CASA chief executive Bruce Gemmell
told the committee.
"We had a flying operations inspector ... an
airworthiness inspector ... we had a dangerous goods
inspector and a cabin safety inspector," he said.
"We're focused on looking at the systems that operate
within an airline and that will include checking
elements of the operations.
"In this particular case, they actually flew some of
the route sectors with the operator."
Under questioning from Labor Senator Mark Bishop, Mr
Gemmell said there was no reason for CASA to deny
TransAir an operating licence.
"Obviously ... the AOC was issued, so the appropriate
delegate didn't see anything in the report to him that
would suggest not issuing the AOC."
A subsequent review of this year's inspection had
also concluded there were no serious safety breaches.
"There was a range of things found, but nothing
serious or significant," Mr Gemmell said.
He could not say whether the safety inspectors had
inspected the plane, VHTFU, that crashed but said it was
The plane's cockpit voice recorder, which was
retrieved from the scene but found to contain no
information about the crash, was last tested by TransAir
on June 16, 2004.
recorders have to be checked once a year under CASA
regulations and it was due to be rechecked in
The committee was also told today that TransAir was
still flying the route between Bamaga near the tip of
Cape York Peninsula and Cairns but had contracted the
service out to another airline.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)
investigating the crash and is due to release a
preliminary report next month.
Before the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and
Transport Legislation yesterday, the ATSB said it
received a copy of a 2001 complaint made against
TransAir operations in Papua New Guinea just last week.
Two former TransAir pilots with
concerns about the airline's safety are refusing to talk
on the record because of a lack of faith in CASA.