CASA has reportedly suspended the pilot’s licence of Dominic James, the Pel-Air pilot who successfully ditched an IAI Westwind into the ocean off Norfolk Island after the aircraft ran low on fuel whilst on an air ambulance flight late last year.
According to The Australian newspaper, James’s licence has been suspended by CASA as part of its investigations following the ditching of the aircraft, VH-NGA, in November last year. The Authority has not confirmed the report, citing privacy concerns.
James was the pilot in command of VH-NGA which was operating a medevac flight with six people on board from Apia to Melbourne with a scheduled fuel stop at Norfolk. Poor conditions at the Island prevented the aircraft from landing despite four attempts to do so, forcing the pilots to ditch the aircraft into the Pacific Ocean.
The accident prompted CASA to conduct a special audit of Pel Air’s operations and its fuel management policies, and has also seen the operator undertake its own review. CASA’s investigation, which is running in parallel with the ATSB investigation into the ditching, is still in progress and is expected to lead to some changes to fuel carriage requirements, particularly on aeromedical services.