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26 & 27 October 2021

Safeskies Australia conference 

20-22 September 2022

Recent events

Aerial firefighting: meeting future challenges safely

Safeskies Australia and RMIT University presented two 90-minute webinars focusing on ‘Aerial firefighting: managing future challenges safely’ in late July.   
20 July 2021

In the first webinar, a panel of industry experts examined operational factors during recent fire seasons.

Adam Bannister, Manager of Air Operations, WA Department of Fire and Emergency Management spoke on the use of large air tankers (LAT) in WA firefighting; Andrew Duggan, Managing Director, Insitu Pacific and board member Australian Association Unmanned Systems spoke on the potential for firefighting using larger UAS/drones; and human factors specialist and author, Dr Tony Kern, discussed aerial firefighting from a human performance perspective.

21 July 2021

The second webinar focused on aerial firefighting regulatory and safety considerations.

Stuart Ellis, CEO of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council (AFAC) opened with a national perspective on aerial firefighting, while Canadian transport accident investigator, Jon Lee, Western Region Manager, the Transport Safety Board (TSB), and Colin McNamara, acting Chief Commissioner, Australian Transport Safety Bureau, spoke on firefighting accident investigations.


Past Events


Over the years, Safeskies has brought numerous well-known aviation personnel to Australia, including the first keynote speaker, John J Nance. Nance, a pilot, is a leader and a pioneer in both aviation and medical safety and quality, and for almost 20 years has been a familiar face to North American television audiences as the aviation analyst for ABC World News and Good Morning America, and for appearances on the crash investigation series, Mayday.

Other distinguished speakers have included: space pioneer Dr Bill Gaubatz (Delta-Clipper space project); two chiefs of the RAAF; the NTSB Board Chairman, Mark Rosenker; former Chairman, CAA UK, Sir Roy McNulty; Director of the Air Navigation Bureau (ICAO) Ms Nancy Graham; and most recently, in 2019, Secretary-General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Dr Fang Liu.

Themes and topics

Safeskies has focused from time to time on a range of themes, including ‘Setting the right aviation safety culture’; ‘Safety in the globalised economy’; Learning the lessons of the past’; ‘Making safety management systems work’; and ‘Training and change’. Conference topics include a broad range  of aviation activities, civil and military: flight operations, engineering and maintenance, ground handling, training, air traffic management, safety management systems and organisational culture, across sectors ranging from airlines and charter to recreational aviation, emergency services and the growing unmanned sector.

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Sue Burdekin

Life member of Safeskies from 2020

Most recently, Sue Burdekin was the Aviation Program Coordinator in ADFA’s School of Engineering and Information Technology. She is a highly credentialled academic and researcher in human factors; and has been a senior lecturer in human factors and aviation safety since 2001. She has had experience in GA management and is a commercial pilot. She is a committee member of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a member of the European Association for Aviation Psychology, the Australian Aviation Psychology Association, the International Society of Air Safety Investigation, the Australian Women Pilots’ Association (a former state president), and a former board member of Safeskies.

She and her partner, Dr Robert (Rob) Lee, were regular speakers at Safeskies, bringing their wide-ranging and considerable human factors expertise to the conferences.