The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is marking its 20th year of operations this month.

The bureau was formed in July 1999 after the amalgamation of the Bureau of Air Safety Investigation (BASI), the Marine Accident Investigation Unit and elements of the Federal Office of Road Safety.

Part of the remit of the new organisation was to investigate transport accidents with a view to establishing cause but not blame so reoccurences could be avoided.

The ATSB had been in existence for only a couple of months when it was faced with one of the largest investigations of its 20 years, the QF1 B747 over-run at Bangkok. Since then, the bureau has dealt with some very high-profile aviation accidents including:

  • QF 32 A380 uncontained engine failure out of Singapore
  • VH-PGW PA-31 crash at Canley Vale
  • QF72 A330 uncommanded control inputs near Learmonth, WA
  • VH-NGA Westwind ditching off Norfolk Island (twice)
  • Whyalla Airlines Flight 904 PA-31 crash into Spencer Gulf
  • VH-TFU Aerotropics Metroliner crash on approach to Lockhart River.

"On the occasion of the ATSB’s 20th anniversary, I am immensely proud to be leading the organisation," said ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood. "I take pride in the ATSB’s world-class technical and research capabilities, but most importantly, I take great pride in the qualities and capabilities of our people.

“Today the ATSB takes a multi-disciplinary teams-based approach to investigations generating world-class investigation reports. Those world class investigations have played no small part in ensuring Australia’s transport safety record is the envy of the world.”

The ATSB employs just over 100 people, based in the central office in Canberra and offices in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Almost two-thirds are Transport Safety Investigators, who come from a range of professional backgrounds, including pilots, licenced aircraft maintenance engineers, air traffic controllers, master mariners, train drivers and human factors specialists.

According to Greg Hood, the ATSB is "preparing and positioning for the changing face of transport in Australia, especially with the rising use of remotely piloted aircraft and ever increasing automation.

“The ATSB is well prepared for the changing face of transport, and looks forward to contributing to further improvements in transport safety over the next 20 years.”

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