Go easy on the euphoria

Paul Phelan. Dec 08, 2014

Input from general aviation identities isn’t exactly brimming with relief at the government’s response to the ASRR Panel’s detailed study and recommendations – and it’s easy to understand why. Here’s a comment from veteran airport, charter and training operator Sandy Reith, who no longer operates an aviation business and has no personal axe to grind. Sandy is down to just one private aeroplane (although a remarkable one to be sure) but still cares about what is and what is not happening.

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The letter was originally from Sandy to former AOPA Chair Phillip Reiss in response to Phillip’s circular to AOPA members, and was also widely circulated to interested parties including the media. It reminds us that a great deal more needs to happen before all that mistrust can be expected to start dissolving.

Phillip,

I am sure that we are all gratified that at least, and at last, General Aviation industry ills have gained some recognition. Unfortunately the mooted remedies will fade away, whiteanted, delayed and ultimately lost from memory except for the few of us who have watched with dismay the destruction of what should be a vibrant and useful Australian industry. Younger GA participants could not imagine the dynamic growth of GA in the thirty years to, say, 1990.

The government’s response is full of ‘maybes’, ‘lots of work to assess’, ‘if resources can be found’, ‘may take some time’, ‘must check with ICAO’, ‘new board and CEO need to formulate strategies’ etc etc ad nauseam. Take as an example the agreement to consider the ASIC problem, the report finishes talking about just a possible change but in reality keeping this card. Thus the ‘agree in principle’ CASA modus operandi is writ large throughout the document. Soft soap from the experts.

Not a word about deleting the requirement for an AIr Operator Certificate for flying training, mentioned for further consideration by the Panel but not given as a recommendation. This would be probably the only measure that could quickly reinvigorate training. Flying training is the first and most urgent segment of GA that needs to be unshackled from the exceptionally onerous and expensive AOC system. In the USA some 70% of pilots are trained by individual instructors. VH (ie. mainstream GA aircraft) flying schools are now the rarest of animals, even the Nation’s capital lost its last school four years ago. This is a National disgrace. Nearly 400,000 Canberrans, of the wealthiest demographic and most influential have no flying school. Airline pilots are now on the 457 visa list.

The new CEO has a command pyramid type background, and no ‘coal face’ GA business experience. Minister Truss did nothing to assist GA when he was the Minister in the Howard government. I took a deputation to Mr Truss regarding reform during that time. Instead of listening to our suggested growth plans, he cut short our (concise) presentation and defended the decline in VH registered GA as being balanced with the growth in RAAus below 600 kg category. The low weight category in present form is extremely poor policy, encouraging thousands of flyers into, in many cases, unsuitable light weight aircraft hard up against the thoroughly unrealistic gross weight limit of 600 kg. That is often the combination of two people, engine, propellor and fuel and oil leaving not much for an airframe fit for purpose.

Unless the Minister makes fairly specific directions and imposes time limits, then the CASA juggernaut will roll on. Can anyone really believe that the authoritarian and make work CASA system and culture will now be turned into an enlightened and helpful regulator? I fully agree with your concerns in this regard. If real reforms were carried out half the CASA staff would be redundant, they know this better than anyone. Most of their work could be tendered out for a fraction of present cost, NZ CAA would be a prime contender.

What is it now? Twenty five years, hundreds of $ millions and still they have not finished the rule re-write. The system is broken and the Board, without Ministerial Direction and backup, will be impotent.

With respect, there is actually no firm result and little hope of timely meaningful reform. Platitudes and window dressing is about all we really have, until and unless Parliament finds the willpower and demands action. This will not happen unless we achieve the sympathetic attention of Federal MP’s. I have suggested that AOPA run a petition, one measure that might gain publicity. I would appreciate an answer or acknowledgment of that email.

Regards,

Sandy Reith

ProAviation invites readers to contribute similar summaries on this issue, which we would propose to publish as opinion at the foot of this article. They should be restrained, factual, ASRR-relevant and free from vituperation, and we offer the option of identifying writers or not, according to their preference. Please address them to pdphelan@westnet.com.au.

And while Proaviation was filing the above, some very ASRR – relevant comment  arrived in a media release from Ken Cannane at AMROBA:

GOVERNMENT AVIATION RESPONSE IS OPEN-ENDED

The Aviation Maintenance Repair & Overhaul Business Association (AMROBA) welcomes the government making public its response to the Aviation Safety Regulation Review (ASRR) Report and the announcement of the remaining members of CASA’s Board.

The government has agreed to 20 of the 37 recommendations; agreed in-principle to eleven more, noted five and rejected one.

However, there is a real urgency today to move from words to outcomes for industry than at any time during the past three decades. Many of the non-airline sectors are basically in recession awaiting job creation opportunities.

After closely studying the response, AMROBA supports what government proposes to do but are concerned that this political response is similar to past governments’ responses to the numerous aviation reviews & enquiries during the past 30 years.

The government has placed ineffable trust in the CASA Board & CASA DAS Skidmore to take actions as directed by a new Minister’s “Statement of Expectations”.

Other recommendations have been left for CASA to consider. Our members are, were and will be looking for more permanent long term solutions that, in AMROBA’s opinion, can only be properly and permanently implemented if the Civil Aviation Act is amended to provide legislative support to many of the changes proposed in the ASRR Report.

Without a commitment to permanent changes being included in the Civil Aviation Act, our members do not see the cycle of continual aviation reviews and enquiries stopping.

Notwithstanding, AMROBA is fully committed, as we have done in the past, to working collaboratively with government and CASA to adopt and implement the endorsed recommendations of the ASRR report. In addition, we support the time table for regulatory change contained in the Report so jobs can be created, especially in general aviation.

Contact Person Ken Cannane, AMROBA

Phone: (02) 97592715; Mobile: 0408029329; Website: www.amroba.org.au

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About Paul Phelan

Paul Phelan flew for over 50 years in private, charter, corporate and regional aviation, worked in senior management roles with a major regional airline, and retains his license. In parallel he has been writing for Australian and international aviation journals for well over 20 years on all aspects of aviation including aircraft evaluation, flying, industry affairs, infrastructure, manufacture, regulatory affairs, safety, technologies and training. He has won three separate National Aviation Press Club awards for "best technical aviation story of the year."

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