The state coroner of Western Australia has criticised the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) for its low level of supervision of safety standards in general aviation and has called for an improvement in GA safety in Australia.

The coroner’s comments come after his investigation into the deaths of two passengers in a Cessna 404 crash at Perth’s Jandakot airport in August 2003.

The Cessna, owned by Fugro Spatial Solutions, suffered a failure of the right engine, crashed and burst into flames within two minutes of take-off, with one passenger dying at the crash site and a second dying later from burns.

The engine failure was attributed to the shearing of a drivershaft pin and, during the investigation, it was found that a replacement sleeve bearing had been made of the wrong material – aluminium bronze rather than soft, high-lead bronze.

The coroner says GA safety in Australia “could be considerably improved”, pointing to 638 fatal GA accidents in the country between 1980 and 2003.

He also notes that with an increasingly ageing GA fleet, there will be more aircraft in future flying with non-manufacturer-original parts.

The coroner’s report criticises CASA’s mechanism for ensuring that replacement parts are of sufficiently high quality not to compromise air safety, including the audit process, and the authority’s response to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s investigation into the crash.

CASA says: “We will be studying the report very closely. Our technical people will look at it over coming weeks and months and we will see what practical aviation safety lessons can be learned from the report.”

Source: Flight International