THE Misima crash that killed three Australians and a New Zealander last Tuesday has also exposed serious concerns about Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA) handling of Trans Air’s operations and anger about the allegedly poor performance of some of the parties involved in Australian investigations into the Kokoda disaster last year, The National reports.
Popular Australian website Crikey, reported that while the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) had agreed to a Papua New Guinea invitation to assist in its investigation at the site where the operator’s Citation II jet crashed off the runway on Misima Island, its involvement is being kept at levels Port Moresby considers appropriate to an aviation accident rather than a political circus.
Information given to Crikey said a massive and costly inquiry by Australian authorities – including the department of environment, water, heritage and the arts as well as the ATSB, CASA and department of foreign affairs and trade – into the crash of a PNG Airlines Twin Otter while descending toward the Kokoda airstrip last Aug 11 produced a report “so badly flawed that it was withdrawn without a detailed release after the PNG authorities objected to what they regarded as factual errors and mistakes within it”.
Crikey said: “That crash killed 13 people, including nine Australians about to embark on the Kokoda Track walk.
“An official and detailed PNG report into the tragedy is in preparation for public release on a date to be announced.
“The anger in Port Moresby over CASA’s alleged ‘persecution’ of Trans Air and one of its co-owners, Les Wright, who died in last Tuesday’s crash is not about Wright’s numerous offences against Australian safety regulations while chief pilot and part owner of the earlier Transair, which went out of business after the crash of its Metroliner turbo-prop while approaching Lockhart River in far northern Queensland on May 7, 2005, killing all 15 people on board.
“Rather it is about a perceived vendetta against the PNG Trans Air operation, in which Wright had no role in its management of safety, and which officials in
“To summarise from privileged documents, the ATSB in its inquiry in the 2005 crash blamed inadequate and ineffective CASA oversight of Wright and Transair as a contributing factor, in that if CASA had done its job the accident would never have happened.
“These claims, subsequently pursued by the relatives of the
“The CASA ‘vendetta’ against Wright and Trans Air failed after the administrative appeals tribunal in January reversed the regulator’s refusal to issue a certificate of approval for its medical evacuation and related flight activities between PNG and
“Those flights used the same jet that was destroyed on Tuesday after it was observed to aquaplane off the
“Wright is now dead, and following the comments about him and Trans Air made by CASA, which sought to leverage positive spin on its failures to deal with Transair in 2005, so is its reputation in PNG.”