Once the CDPP gets the Haneef review out of the way perhaps he will deal with a much more material threat to air passengers than a person who didn’t participate in the botched attack on Glasgow Airport.

That case is the long running but unprecedented prosecution of two Qantas pilots for recklessly taking off from Launceston Airport on 23 October, 2001 without activating the runway, taxiway and obstacle lights.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority referred the incident to the CDPP which resulted in the first ever criminal prosecution of a major airline for breaches of the aviation regulations.

It took until 4 November 2005 for the pilots to be committed for trial, but a trial date has yet to be set, and rumours abound that a deal has been done to variously drop the case or enter a plea deal to resolve a case in which Qantas has invested significant legal resources in defending.

However some sources also claim that the trial will go ahead, despite an issue in which the transcript of the committal proceedings was claimed not to be in order or complete.

There were 77 passengers on the Qantas flight.

Runway lights are crucial to air safety because they define the edges and extent of the surface available, providing critical visual clues to pilots during normal circumstances or in such emergencies as an aborted takeoff or a need to unexpectedly locate and turn onto a taxiway, as well as to rescue equipment.

The office of the CDPP was unable to shed more light on the progress of the case this morning.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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