In an unfortunate coincidence for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, another Cessna 208 “Caravan” has crashed within days of it disagreeing with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau over the need to warn pilots over the possibility of the aircraft’s single engine giving out in mid air.

Unlike the combination of skill and good piloting that saved the 11 people on board a Caravan that suffered engine failure over Tasmania’s south-west wilderness last year, nine skydivers and a pilot are believed dead in the accident over similarly mountainous terrain in the US state of Washington.

Yesterday CASA, the safety regulator, and the ATSB, the independent safety investigator, had yet another collision over air safety enforcement, with the former arguing there is no need to fit an additional warning instrument to the type while the latter has sent recommendations to do this to the plane maker and safety bodies world wide.

The ATSB report can be read here and preferably not as you are about to board a Caravan, an aircraft widely used for general utility and sightseeing flights.

The wider public interest in this is not Cessna Caravans but the reluctance of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to “burden” aviation with anything that can be construed as a cost, or even intervene effectively in the running of dangerous, shoddy, grubby little regional carriers like Transair before they kill people.

Meanwhile, in the central Cascades ranges of Washington state, in failing daylight, searchers are frantically looking for up to three walking wounded from the US Caravan crash.

The flight carrying a party of skydivers back from a meet to Seattle was missing for two days before a bloody mess was found on a mountainside. But there seems to have been only seven dead at the site.

If the others did jump, they have come down in brown bear country, where being able to run or hide could still be a matter of life or death.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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