Tiger grounded for another three weeks as complete details remain undisclosed

Crawford Rix scratching head.JPGTiger Australia managing director Crawford Rix last November. Since then the airline has grown confused over what “immediate” safety issues CASA says exists.



The Civil Aviation Safety Authority announced Wednesday night it will apply to the Federal Court to extend Tiger’s grounding until 1 August, but full details of the grounding’s rationale are yet to be released.

Tiger can argue against the extension, but until the federal court in Melbourne approves or rejects the extension, Tiger will remain grounded. CASA says if it is successful in its application but completes its investigation earlier and determines there are no further unacceptable risks, Tiger could resume operations earlier.

Extending the grounding by three weeks shows how serious CASA reckons are Tiger’s systemic flaws that allow an assortment of mishaps to occur–including two approaches conducted below minimum safe altitudes–or how stubborn CASA is finding Tiger in its unwillingness to change operations to a satisfactory level. Over the weekend chief executive Tony Davis denied there were any immediate problems with the carrier.

The full details of CASA’s concerns originating from a show cause notice earlier this year are not known beyond the few topics CASA has released details of, such as pilot proficiency, maintenance control, and fatigue management.

There are two transparency comparisons to make. The first is from March when during a senate inquiry into pilot training and aviation safety a senator obtained a message from a Jetstar pilot denying he was fatigued yet extolling all the symptoms of being fatigued. The letter’s serious side and implications were overshadowed by the pilot’s phrase “toughen up princesses”, but the letter gave explicit details of the type of fatigue being experienced–in this case, serious. Tiger’s fatigue issues are unknown.

Even more sensational on the onset than the “toughen up princesses” letter is an example from America. In April the country’s food and health regulator sent a public warning letter to Delta’s chief executive detailing rodent excreta and urine found on aircraft. The letter specifies findings such as “9-15 rodent excreta pellets on the right aisle of the aircraft over seats C3-C7″. While the mainstream media had a field day with such detail, the letter promoted transparency and that is missing in the Tiger case where the stakes are higher than rodent droppings.

CASA is not to blame. Its transparency is legally restricted, even though some elements of the safety regulator wish otherwise.

This page in April filed a freedom of information request to obtain the details of the show cause notice. The process called for Tiger to weigh in by Friday, a coincidental timeframe given Tiger’s grounding. If Tiger does not respond by the deadline then CASA can determine to release the show cause notice and associated paperwork. If they do the public will have a much greater understanding of Tiger’s situation. While some through ignorance or arrogance may misconstrue presented facts, others will fully comprehend the status quo, a situation they should be entitled to.

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