Aviation activist, former CASA chairman and entrepreneur Dick Smith has supported growing industry calls for a Royal Commission into aviation in Australia.
In a video posted to social media site Vimeo last week, Smith cites several fatal crashes in Australia as evidence of the need for an inquiry.
"I agree with those pilots that are calling for a Royal Commission," Smith says in the video. "We had a Royal Commission into home insulation after four people lost their lives. Now we've got 15 who have died, I believe, completely unnecessarily."
Smith's 15 are the six who died onboard Cheyanne VH-TNP near Benalla, Vic, in 2004; the three people killed when Navajo VH-OAO crashed trying to get into Mount Hotham in July 2005, the crash of Mooney VH-DJU near Coffs Harbour in September last year and the mid-air collision south of Mangalore earlier this year in which four professional pilots died.
According to Smith, the common denominator is that all aircraft were operating in Class G uncontrolled airspace, when they would have been in Class E airspace had reforms been implemented in the 1990s.
"As per the original AMATS [Airways Management Air Traffic Services] agreement 29 years ago, I believe that at airports served by airline traffic, the Class E should come down to either 1200 feet AGL or 700 feet AGL," Smith told Australian Flying.
"It should also be the same at busy airports with good ADS-B/radar coverage. This would follow the North American system, which works very well and safely."
AMATS was first proposed in December 1991, two years after Dick Smith was appointed Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). He resigned in 1992 before being reinstated as Chairman of the new Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) in December 1997.
In February 1998, Class E airspace replaced Class G for a six-month trial, which mandated transponder use in the Class E.
Smith resigned again in March 1999.
Smith has also urged Airservices Australia Chairman John Weber to resign, saying he has "blood on his hands" because Airservices did not provide a separation service for the aircraft involved in the Mangalore crash.