A training captain with Jetstar, Geoff Klouth, today told the Senate inquiry into pilot training and airline safety about an apparent attempt to tamper with the evidence being given by Jetstar pilots to an ATSB  inquiry into a near crash by the Qantas low fare subsidiary at Melbourne airport on July 21, 2007.

He said the matter was referred to the Australian Federal Police by the ATSB but they declined to pursue it because of a lack of resources.

Klouth also referred to two other serious incidents involving Jetstar flights that do not appear on ATSB archives as having been fully investigated.

He told the inquiry that “Safety margins that were a normal part of the aviation industries and which contributed to Australia’s safety record have been and are being eroded to a point where airlines’ safety can no longer be considered as a given.”

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The training captain’s full submission can be read here.

It contains substantial allegations of unprofessional standards at the Boeing owned Alteon training facility that was being used by Jetstar to prepared pilots to fly its single aisle Airbuses.

The Senate inquiry’s terms of reference include an examination of the Jetstar incident in which two confused pilots following recently altered approach procedures by Jetstar, flew an A320 close to the ground in fog during a botched go around procedure at the end of a flight from Christchurch on July 21, 2007.

After a second missed approach the flight then diverted to Avalon Airport.

This incident was only investigated by the ATSB after articles in Crikey and Aviation Business reported that during the missed approach the ground proximity warning system was triggered twice, an event that Jetstar eventually discovered weeks after it had happened but failed to disclose to the air safety investigator until ordered to do so.

In his submission concerning the incident Klouth says:

Klouth said he took over the in house investigation of the July 21, 2007 incident from another training captain in September of that year, when he reported an apparent attempt by another party to impersonate the ATSB officers , which the air safety investigator then referred to the Australian Federal Police.

The submission makes a number of claims about the devaluing of experience by airline managements in Australia and the consequences this has for air safety standards in this country.

The inquiry will hold its next public hearing on February 25.

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