Safety in our skies

Host: Fortescue Helicopters
Written by Weldon Percy – Owner & Chief Pilot, Fortescue Helicopters.

The need for an Aerial Mustering Association or representative body was recently identified through a sector risk analysis by CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority). On consultation with several industry leading operators CASA identified this as the number one need of our industry into the future. In 2016 a corporate client of ours made a push to get the wheels in motion and get something happening in this area.

The result was the formation of the Aerial Mustering Safety Committee, which is hosted by the world-wide aviation safety group the Flight Safety Foundation.


The premise and primary objective of this group is to promote safety amongst professional aerial mustering service providers and to provide a voice to the media, and general community about our industry.

One of the greatest issues we face as an industry in Aerial Mustering (very similar for beef industry) is mis-representation by the media. Whether it be social, TV, papers, or any other form, we are most often written off as unprofessional “Aerial Cowboys” and all sorts of other undesirable things. Once the committee is fully functional it will provide us with a great platform to change the way we are represented by having a solid group of experienced operators to give sound backing behind the committee’s voice.

photo-3-copySome of our fleet at Newman Airport. Photo by Ashley Towie.

The committee is chaired by Craig Crumblin, a veteran mustering pilot who has for the past several years worked tirelessly representing the industry at CASA and ATSB (Australian Transport and Safety Bureau) all on his own accord. Craig should be commended on the effort and passion he puts into this cause. He is no doubt the most knowledgeable man in Australia on mustering industry regulation reform and we are fortunate to have his knowledge and expertise to steer the committee.

Craig is ably supported by Nick Dyer – Heli-muster NT; Dick Arnold –Townsville Helicopters; Shane Brook – RFDS; David Anderson – CEO of Flight Safety and myself, Weldon Percy of Fortescue Helicopters.

As the primary aims are to improve safety and representation, the committee intends to not have a member based organisation type structure, which, given the nature of the industry would probably lead to too much political and cost-based controversy. Rather the committee is actively working with other industry stakeholders such as CASA, insurance underwriters, and corporate pastoral clients to fund it’s activities. We aspire to create full transparency and ensure our focus remains safety and representation and can’t be misled by politically-bent issues which occur in many industry associations.

The inaugural meeting for the Committee was held in May at the Flight Safety Foundation offices in Melbourne, with a future schedule dependent on funding and member time available. As a Committee we encourage all members of the beef industry, particularly graziers whom employ aerial mustering contractors to help our group promote and push for higher levels of professionalism from pilots and operators.

Aerial Mustering, it’s cost efficiency, the high standard of animal welfare and cattle handling, can and does provide to large scale beef producers is a vital part of the beef industry’s sustainability. We need the support and encouragement from station managers and owners whom utilise our services to promote professionalism in aerial mustering and encourage all aerial mustering companies and pilots to strive for best practice in every aspect of their operations. Without the cohesive support of the entire beef industry in the push for professionalism it will be difficult for aerial mustering to remain sustainable and continue to serve beef producers long term.

photo-4-copyPhoto by Izo Photography.

The aerial mustering safety committee looks forward to encouraging all members of the beef industry to work with us to ensure we can continue to provide our services sustainably for many mustering seasons to come.

Well it has come time again to an end our host week at Central Station. We hope you have enjoyed our posts as much as we love mustering, which is the biggest mob!

Thank you to Jane and Steph for their continued relentless work on the beef industry’s behalf to have our stories heard and help us connect with the worldwide community. We truly appreciate the effort and hope to see Central Station continue to become more and more popular into the future.

To all our valued loyal clients thank you for the opportunity to work with you throughout the mustering season this year. To all in the beef world, we wish everyone a safe happy and raining wet season ahead.