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Chat: Maurie Baston

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Interviewer: 60 Minutes presents a live interview with aviation expert, Maurie Baston.

Interviewer: Maurie, welcome to our live online chatroom.

Maurie Baston: Thanks for having me tonight, I hope I can answer all your questions

Robbie asks: How long have you been involved in Aviation?

Maurie Baston: 55 years.

igloo asks: Why should it be up to the CAA to be responsible for every aircraft - surely it should have been the responsibility of the person who 'renovated' such aircraft, somewhat like a roadworthy?

Maurie Baston: The regulator, has legislative responsibility to ensure aviation safety in the country But there is also other levels of responsibility, particularly engineers, pilots and management systems put in place by the operator so that there are various level of responsibility that people much compile with.

lionman asks: Surely, as the risk is obvious, thrill seekers must take some form of responsibility for accidental death?

Maurie Baston: I do agree, they do have responsibility, but it is rather like an operation in the hospital. We take the risk, but we assume that the doctors who are conducting the operation are trained and all safety precautions are taken.

Robbie asks: does the Australian CAA work in a similar way to the NZ CAA?

Maurie Baston: It's not a CAA, it's a Civil Aviation, they have identical responsibilities. They operate in a similar fashion. The Australian is a much bigger organisation.

jimieaussie asks: Who is at fault for the crash?

Maurie Baston: The fault lies at several levels, from the top down. That is the NZ CAA, the engineering company that did the modification, the lack of management systems as provided by the operator, and finally the pilot in command has responsibilities to ensure the aircraft is operated within the aircraft's limitations, particularly the weight and balance. And those comments I just made are totally supported by the report and specifically in the findings of the report produced by the investigators in New Zealand.

steve asks: If the people in the plane were secured and didn't slide would the plane still have crashed

Maurie Baston: According to the report, yes. But the people sliding to the rear would have exaggerated the problem.

jack asks: Do you believe there were other issues with the aircraft, more than just a COG problem?

Maurie Baston: There were issues in the conversion from the prop sprayer to the carrying of parachutes. And those issues were non-compliance were raised in the report. And those issues are applicable to the maintenance organisation.

jack asks: Could it be possible that there was an issue with the elevator which caused the dramatic increase in the angle of attack once the aircraft lifted off?

Maurie Baston: That was raised by a comment in the press in New Zealand and according to the report, there were no mechanical deficiencies in the aircraft in terms of control, engines or anything else. the airplane, according to the investigators who covered that issue, it was fully serviceable.

Direct_to asks: Maurie, I'd like to know your thoughts on the relative safety of Australian vs NZ skydiving? Having worked in the industry in both country's over the last 3-4 years I was shocked by the one sided attack on the NZ CAA displayed in tonight’s story. As you may know the NZ CAA recently introduced part 115 adventure air operators to which skydiving comes under. I personally believe the recently introduced regulations & audits make NZ a lot safer place to undertake a skydive than Australia. Your thoughts?

Maurie Baston: I can't make a comparative comment as to whether NZ or AU is a safer place to conduct parachute operations, but what I can say is with the introduction of NZ regulations specifically aimed at the parachute industry, it would be my view that the parachute operations in NZ would certainly be safer than those existed prior to these new regulations. In AU, the industry is regulated remotely by the Australian Parachute Federation Association. However they are regulated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority. So there are differences in the way both countries regular parachute operations, but I cannot make a comparison between the two countries as to the level of safety being experienced.

ginger asks: Do you believe that compensation rules in NZ should be changed?

Maurie Baston: Absolutely!

Direct_to asks: do you believe that skydiving in Australia over seen by CASA and the APF has a better safety record & a better regulatory frame work than that of the NZ CAA and their recently introduced part 115?

Maurie Baston: Please refer to my answer above that was previously answered. Thanks.

PJ99 asks: As an aviation expert do shows like 'Air Crash Investigations' show a realistic picture of crashes?

Maurie Baston: Yes, but they are often over dramatised, but there is often a very good safety message that those shows produce.

cam01 asks: do you think the CAA will take on more regulation of adventure tourism like skydiving activities such as the recently ordered drug and alcohol testing

Maurie Baston: Providing the additional regulation are framed correctly and are applied efficiently, then that should have a better safety outcome then they have had in the past. In respect of the drug and alcohol testing, up to the time of the accident, NZ has no such regime in place. I was asked about this in the course of the interview, and I did point out that Au had already introduced this drug and alcohol legislations and I understand NZ were, looking to introduce a similar program.

jonesy asks: If you could implement 3 aviation safety standards / items, what would they be?

Maurie Baston: I'm not sure that I'd introduce anymore safety regulations, but I would make sure that there was sufficient resources to ensure compliance and a recognition to oversee industry sensitivities.

Robbie asks: How do you believe that things should change for the better?

Maurie Baston: As far as NZ is concerned, to ensure that there are sufficient resources to accommodate the legislative responsibilities and that means, the government needs to provide the funding and have the will to provide these resources.

steve asks: Are people secured in place in Australia while taking off in an aircraft for sky diving, you said the report shows the plane would have crashed when the people slid back but the truth is that if the weight wasn't moving about than the pilot would have had a better chance of correcting the situation. What I am saying is this could happen again if we have learned nothing from the event.

Maurie Baston: According to the report, irrespective of the passenger weight shifting to the back, the aircraft was flown beyond the asked centre of gravity limit. The sliding of Parachuters to the rear of the aeroplane as it climbed steeping would have exaggerated the problem. It is my belief is that all passengers in all airplanes when they fly should be strapped down. We are required to drive our cars with our seat belts on and I believe we should adopt the same policy for all aircraft operations.

Desinger asks: Shouldn’t' people have travel insurance to cover expenses should death occur?

Maurie Baston: That's a personal choice.

unsure asks: Is there a spot that you always pick to sit on a plane?

Maurie Baston: No I don't have a special seat.

FreqTravelr asks: When did you become involved with Aviation safety?

Maurie Baston: I had a career in the air force first, then I had a career in airlines, then as a regulator. So it was a progressive career involving all aspects of aviation safety. And I currently run my own aviation company, Air Transport Management.

Matt asks: Do you think parachute operations should be done under an AOC

Maurie Baston: I think all operations that carry passengers should be conducted under an AOC, however the requirements of a parachuting AOC don't need to be anywhere near as restrictive as an airline AOC. But I do believe that parachute operations should be further documented.

pyropip01 asks: is this the only fatal accident in NZ due to CAA slack effort

Maurie Baston: I'm not aware of specific CAA short comings.

Direct_to asks: do you consider CASA's 'new' CASR98 regs to a step in the right direction for OZ aviation? or is the legalese in which these regs written making it harder for Australian aviation to remain compliant?

Maurie Baston: The regulation reform program in Australia has been running for a number of years. The aim of the program was to ensure harmonisation with other regulation authorisation and become ICAO compliant. The Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 was supplemented with the CA regulation 1998 with the aim to modernise them. In some areas this made compliance more difficult. These difficulties are slowly being addressed in the regulator reform program, which is still on going. Like any change to established procedures and protocol, these changes can often cause confusion, misinterpretation, leading to difficulties of compliance. However Australia is attempting to remove these regulations impediment.

raver332 asks: Maurie, what can lay people do to help the cause?

Maurie Baston: They can perhaps influence their parliamentary representative on any aviation concerns that they may have.

Interviewer: Unfortunately we are out of time tonight, any final comments before we finish up?

Maurie Baston: Thanks very much for having me on the show, aviation safety is a subject dear to my heart. Close to my personal and professional life. I would like to think that one day we would have a zero accident rate, if not we should all be working towards that. and I would like to thank everyone for watching and for everyone who asked questions, and I hope I've answered them with sufficient clarity to help everyone understand this important aspect of aviation.

Interviewer: This concludes our chat with Maurie Baston, Sunday October 7, 2012.

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