The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has urged Angel Flight to reconsider its response to their recommendation to place passengers on airlines rather than private flights.
The recommendation was contained in the investigation report into the fatal accident of VH-YTM at Mount Gambier in 2017, but Angel Flight rejected the recommendation, preferring to stay with private flights as the primary service.
In a letter to Angel Flight CEO Marjorie Pagani dated 4 November, ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood said he would give Angel Flight another chance to reconsider their position before posting the response on the ATSB website.
"The reasons outlined for the decision by Angel Flight to maintain its current policy of giving priority to private flights where possible do not address the evidence on which the recommendation was made," Hood states in the letter.
"As outlined in the final investigation report, that evidence centred on that commercial passenger flights have an established lower safety risk for passengers than private operations. The reasons stated in your response only addressed your disagreement with other evidence in the ATSB final report concerning the relative safety of Angel Flights and other private operations.
"The ATSB Commission believes that Angel Flight should firstly consider the safety of Angel Flight passengers. Regional and rural people should not be exposed to unnecessary levels of risk as a passenger on a private community service flight, and as such, Angel Flight should consider the safer option as the primary option, where available, before considering private operations.
"The ATSB Commission is therefore asking you to reconsider your response to the safety recommendation."
Pagani told Australian Flying that the ATSB seemed out of touch with what it meant for Angel Flight to put passengers on RPT flights.
"They completely overlook the very personal nature of the service; the difficulties with families and elderly people navigating major city airports to find the pick-up spots and of course the drivers themselves, who prefer not to have to negotiate those airports.
"You would be surprised at the high number of people we have who strenuously object to having to use RPT – they don’t like the waiting, the queuing, the big arrival airports and the lack of personal contact.
"We even have abusive responses at times when we want to move passengers to RPT."
It is believed that Angel Flight will not be reconsidering their position.