CHC Helicopter Hit by Fallout from Training Scandal

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CHC Helicopter Hit by Fallout from Training Scandal

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CHC Helicopter Hit by Fallout from Training Scandal

By Ofonime Essien

Susan Close silent on CHC Helicopter TAFE SA bungle

South Australian Skills Minister Susan Close. Picture: Campbell Brodie

CHC Helicopter, the largest commercial helicopter operator in Australia has — like Qantas — been hit by a ­national air safety audit that exposed a serious training bungle at TAFE SA that could have endangered the lives of air travellers.

CHC Helicopter, which ­employs more than 400 people at 22 bases across the country, on Monday said some of its aircraft maintenance engineers were ­affected by the training scandal at the Parafield Airport campus of TAFE SA.

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As revealed by The Weekend Australian, about 90 aircraft maintenance engineers, who work to ensure planes and helicopters are safe to fly, have had key parts of their licences suspended “until further notice” amid an investigation by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Andy Johnson, CHC Helicopter regional maintenance manager Asia Pacific, told The Australian that TAFE SA was ­engaged for a “small number” of engineers to advance their skills and for a “handful” of basic ­licence training exams.

“The licence restriction removal training and exams were to extend certification coverage, but required further, as yet ­uncompleted, training on specific types of aircraft to be granted certification privileges,” Mr Johnson said.

He said the bungle had not ­affected the company’s day-to-day operations.

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This comes after Qantas said the airline would not recognise or approve the training qualifications undertaken by a “small number” of its engineers at TAFE SA while CASA continued its ­investigation.

On Monday, South Australian Skills Minister Susan Close confirmed a routine audit by CASA earlier this year found the TAFE SA students were not assessed to the correct standards and exams had raised questions as to ­whether they were taught the right skills. Dr Close was informed of the matter in April but did not tell the public.

She said the government was “looking at the legal advice on what kind of liability that TAFE has and what kind of compensation might need to be offered”.

“If we’ve done the wrong thing we need to be honest about that,” she told ABC radio.

Opposition spokesman David Pisoni and Greens MP Tammy Franks called on Dr Close to ­direct an audit of all TAFE SA processes and qualifications. However, Dr Close said this was unnecessary as “professions are audited in the appropriate way by the accrediting authority”.

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A former student of the suspended aircraft maintenance course at TAFE SA yesterday said CASA was investigating allegations that many of those doing the course at Parafield Airport had not completed the practical component, and when it was ­offered it was fast-tracked, with some material already assembled to enable students to pass quickly.

He said CASA also was examining whether some students were advised to sign enrolment and attendance logs to obtain practical qualifications that they would not be undertaking, in order to provide evidence of compliance. It also has been alleged the course was designed to allow as many students as possible to pass exams, with little emphasis on learning the theory or practical components.

A CASA spokesman said he could not comment on that ­aspect of the investigation “at this stage”.

(The Australian)




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About Author

Ofonime Essien

Mr. Ofonime A. Essien, is a Helicopter Pilot. He is also a Microsoft Certified Database Administrator (MCDBA), Oracle Certified Associate (OCA), a Computer Forensics Expert, a Blogger, Web Master, a Writer and an Entrepreneur. He is an avid reader. He likes motivating others to achieve their dreams through writing and speaking.

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