The Jabiru J230-D soars over crop paddocks in the Bundaberg region.
The Jabiru J230-D soars over crop paddocks in the Bundaberg region. Contributed by Leigh Cooper

Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt slams CASA decision

THE Civil Aviation Safety Authority's (CASA) decision to place operating limitations on Jabiru engines has been labelled "despotic" by Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt.

Mr Pitt said CASA had formally issued Precautionary Operational Limitations on Saturday on all aircraft with Jabiru engines, preventing them from flying at night or over populated areas.

CASA has given Jabiru owners until January 31 to move their aircraft to airfields with unpopulated flight paths.

Last month, the NewsMail reported on the CASA proposal to limit operations on Jabiru aircraft after more than 40 engine failures in the past 12 months.

The limitations, to be implemented before the end of the week, include a restriction of flights to daytime under the visual flight rules, for aircraft to be flown so they can at all times glide clear of a populous area, a requirement for passengers and trainee pilots flying solo to sign a statement saying they are aware of and accept the risk of an engine failure and trainee pilots to have recently and successfully completed engine failure exercises before solo flights.

Jabiru could not be reached yesterday for comment due to the Christmas holidays.

Mr Pitt said while he recognised CASA was best placed to make decisions about aircraft safety, its handling of this particular matter had been "absolutely appalling".

"After much criticism from the manufacturer, flight training schools and aircraft owners, CASA extended the consultation period by a week," he said.

"CASA received an astounding 632 responses in 14 days. I find it unlikely that CASA could properly process and assess all of the submissions within three weeks.

"I've been working very closely with Rodney Stiff from Jabiru and the Deputy Prime Minister's office on this matter and have received briefings from CASA."

A CASA spokesman said the reason behind the limitations was to appropriately manage the safety issues that have arisen due to a number of engine failures and power loss incidents, some of which resulted in aircraft forced landings.

"It is simply an interim measure while Jabiru and ourselves work together to find the cause of the problem and then a solution," he said.

Causes being investigated include design and mechanical issues, how aircraft are flown and maintenance-related issues.