May 14, 2010

Pilot’s Association wrong about cockpit security regulations

Pilot’s Association wrong about cockpit security regulations

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport

Regional Development and Local Government

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

May 14 2010

I am surprised by the fundamental factual errors made in a statement today by the Australian and International Pilots Association about cockpit security regulations.

This week, the Government reintroduced aviation security regulations that restrict people entering a plane’s cockpit unless they have an operational, safety, security or training need to be there.

The proposition advanced by the Pilots Association that these transport security regulations are part of the Budget and supply bills is just absurd.

Far from developing the regulations “in secret and without consultation”, over the last six months officials from the Office of Transport Security have had three meetings with the Pilots Association, and the regulations have been discussed at industry forums and directly with airlines.

The Office of Transport Security discussed the regulations with Qantas, Virgin, Rex and Tiger at the Aviation Security Advisory Forum on 15 October 2009, and at the meeting of the Forum’s regulatory working group on 4 March 2010 in Perth.

The Office of Transport Security reported on the regulations at the Regional Industry Consultative Meeting on 12 November 2009.

In fact, I met with Barry Jackson from the Pilot’s Association in mid-September 2009 to discuss these regulations.

The Government stated in the National Aviation Policy White Paper on 16 December 2009 that “the Government will reintroduce regulations to meet its objective of appropriately restricting access to aircraft cockpits to those with a demonstrated need” (p.141).

The Pilot’s Association is wrong when it says the regulations exclude licensed company pilots from travelling on the flight deck when they are not actually flying the plane. If the airline allows those pilots to travel in the cockpit for an operational, safety, security or training reason they can do so, and the airline – not the pilot – carries legal responsibility.

In fact, the pilot in command of a plane will be able to allow people to travel in the cockpit (such as other pilots), so long as they have an operational, safety, security or training reason for being there. The pilot is then legally responsible for doing so.

These regulations close a dangerous loophole in our aviation security laws and are part of the Government’s comprehensive plan to strengthen aviation security on domestic and international flights.

Currently, there are no effective legal restrictions on who can enter the cockpit of an aircraft.

By restricting access to a cockpit, the Government is taking a strong, practical and common sense approach to strengthen the last line of defence against unlawful interference with a plane.

Aviation security should be a bipartisan issue, but similar regulations to these were voted down by the Opposition in the Senate in September last year. Tony Abbott today failed to support these common sense regulations.

The regulations will commence on 22 May 2010.

These regulations implement policies from the National Aviation Policy White Paper and support the Rudd Labor Government’s $200 million aviation security package, announced in February to respond to emerging threats.