Water-bombing pilot, David Black, killed when his plane crashed while fighting the Shoalhaven bushfires last month, was taunted before take-off for voicing his reluctance to fly in bad weather.
A parliamentary committee has heard the 43-year-old pilot, who died when his PZL-Mielec M-18A Dromader aircraft crashed in Budawang National Park on October 24, was told “real men and real pilots would be up there”.
Liberal Senator Bill Heffernan told a Senate hearing into operations of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority he was disgusted at reports pilots were taunted by the RFS because they did not want to fly in the gale force winds.
“I’m disgusted as I’m informed that on that day it was pretty rugged weather and ...[pilots] were taunted by the Rural Fire Service because these guys didn’t particularly want to fly,” Senator Heffernan told the Senate hearing.
The NSW senator said another pilot reported that Mr Black was told “real men and real pilots would be up there”.
He said the RFS’s opinions were “outside the ambit of safety guidelines of air safety” and asked CASA to clarify its working relationship with the fire authority during emergency operations.
CASA director of aviation safety John McCormick said pilots were contracted by the bushfire service during water bombing.
“We do rely on the expertise of the people who are involved with the firefighting ... I think it’s terrible if they gave him intimidation to fly,” Mr McCormick said.
The co-owner of an agricultural company which operates nine aircraft, Mr Black has been remembered by family and colleagues as a skilled and respected professional.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating the crash in which witnesses saw a wing snap off Mr Black’s aircraft before it plummeted to the ground.
Since the October crash Australia’s fleet of Dromader M18 aircraft have been grounded as a precautionary measure by the CASA.
Many of the aircraft, typically used for crop spraying, have undergone modification allowing them to carry increased weights.
Senator Heffernan said the aircraft should not be authorised for such activities.
“The rougher the weather and the more speed they’ve got to have to put the fire out, the more load you put on the wings and hence when the wing fell off this plane it shouldn’t have fallen off,” he said.
In-flight breakup involving PZL Mielec M18A Dromader aircraft, VH-TZJ, 37 km west of Ulladulla, NSW on 24 October 2013
Investigation number: AO-2013-187
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
John Walsh told customers he would charge “three 20 dollar bills” for an airplane ride, the sheriff’s office said.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office
A 2011 M-Squared Breeze 2 aircraft with floats was seized for possible forfeiture, the sheriff’s office said.
A Florida Keys man was arrested after he was caught recklessly flying an unregistered plane and offering cheap rides, without licenses to do either, authorities said.
John Walsh,46, was caught after a Federal Aviation Administration Safety Inspector, who was on vacation in Islamorada on September 14, noticed he was flying too low over a group of boats and people anchored at the sandbar, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said.
After flying about 25 feet above the group of people, the Marathon resident landed the plane close to the boats and began offering rides, authorities said.
He told customers he would charge “three 20 dollar bills” for a ride and said he was doing it for fun. Walsh said his real income was from “resort investments,” according to the sheriff’s office.
The Federal Aviation Administration inspector reported the incident to the Federal Aviation Security office in Miami, which contacted the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office for investigation.
The sheriff’s office found that Walsh did not have licenses to fly a plane or to carry passengers, authorities said.
“The plane he was flying is not properly registered, and he flew the plane in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another,” the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said.
Walsh was charged with possessing an unregistered aircraft and operating an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner, and more charges may be pending against him, the sheriff’s office said. It wasn’t immediately known if he had an attorney.
Walsh’s airplane was seized by the sheriff’s office.
Man arrested for aircraft violations: http://floridakeyssheriff.blogspot.com