CASA: Tiger show cause notice too ‘damaging’ to be released

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has rejected a freedom of information request to release the show cause notice (SCN) to Tiger Airways Australia, saying the contents could harm the grounded carrier’s public perception.

CASA and Tiger have only said the 23 March SCN covers areas including oversight of maintenance and pilot training.

“The allegations made in the SCN and the responses by Tiger concerning them would, or at least could reasonably be expected to, cause damage to Tiger Airway’s reputation – which may lead to damage to its business, commercial and financial interests,” CASA said.

The 30-page SCN charged that Tiger “on a number of occasions” broke provisions of the Civil Aviation Act, Civil Aviation Regulations 1988, and Civil Aviation Orders.

CASA said those occurrences meant Tiger “thereby breached the condition of its air operator’s certificate.”

The safety regulator grounded Tiger on 1 July after further incidents including two breaches of flying below minimum safe altitudes. Last Thursday CASA sought an extension to the grounding until 1 August to allow it more time to complete its investigation.

Tiger disputed the SCN’s allegations, CASA said. The carrier submitted an initial response and then a further response on 13 April totaling 42 pages which “makes submission as to why contraventions were not committed.”

However, former Tiger managing director Crawford Rix disclosed at a May senate inquiry that the carrier re-structured its operations department and increased the number of local maintenance management personnel at its Melbourne base. Such roles were previously located at the global headquarters of Tiger Holdings in Singapore.

“Where CASA has made suggestions in relation to improving processes and oversight Tiger has taken immediate action and responded proactively with additional resource,” Rix said. Last week Tiger announced he would resign by the end of the month.

No official determination about the breaches was made in the SCN and Tiger’s responses. CASA said it was thus not in the public interest to release information that contained “no formal or final findings or conclusions about alleged contraventions or operational practices.”

Privacy and defamation were also cited as reasons for declining to release the documents. CASA said the SCN and Tiger’s response named specific individuals alleged to have broken regulations. Yet neither CASA nor a court made made formal findings about the breaches.

CASA declined to redact names as “some or all of those persons may be able to be identified by virtue of the factual matters raised in the notice.”

It is becoming evident CASA has grown frustrated with Tiger. Right after the grounding CASA issued a pithy statement on Twitter saying “Real changes will be needed.”

At the senate inquiry Senator Nick Xenophon told Tiger management that “a show cause notice may indicate a lack of satisfactory progress in terms of that dialogue between the regulator and the airline.”

Rix replied, “I think the dialogue in general has been okay.”

Tiger Holdings chief executive Tony Davis, who has since taken over Rix’s role, immediately said the dialogue “has been very good.”

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One Response to CASA: Tiger show cause notice too ‘damaging’ to be released

  1. john b July 13, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    Not sure it’s *possible* to further damage Tiger’s reputation at this point…

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