• General aviation: AOPA Australia believes it is not being given fair representation in Canberra. (Steve Hitchen)
    General aviation: AOPA Australia believes it is not being given fair representation in Canberra. (Steve Hitchen)

AOPA Australia CEO Ben Morgan has described his organisation's exclusion from the Aviation Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) as counter-productive to aviation safety.

In a letter yet to be delivered to CASA CEO Shane Carmody and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester, Morgan says not including AOPA Australia, the Aviation Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Business Association (AMROBA) and the Aerial Application Association of Australia (AAAA) means that general aviation has not been given fair representation.

ASAP is made up of only six members:

  • Qantas
  • Virgin Australia
  • Airports Association of Australia
  • Regional Aviation Association of Australia
  • The Australian Aviation Associations Forum
  • Recreational Aviation Australia.

"Whilst the AOPA Australia can appreciate and understand CASA’s desire to streamline its industry consultative panels, we do not support the exclusion of the general aviation (GA) industry associations," Morgan states.

"Based on CASA data, the GA sector of the Australian aviation industry is by far the largest employer and overall stakeholder, only second to the airline industry. The importance and value of GA to the overall Australian aviation economy can only be considered vital.

"Excluding the GA industry associations from the ASAP is viewed as counterproductive to the overall safety objectives that guide CASA, further damaging the already strained relationship between the regulator and industry. It is also being viewed by many as an attempt to silence constructive industry objection and opposition."

The make up of ASAP has been controversial since the new of the panel was released, but CASA has stated the the inclusion of The Australian Aviation Associations Forum (TAAAF) covers most of the GA associations. AOPA, AMROBA and AAAA are all members organisation of TAAAF.

Despite this, AOPA Australia and Ben Morgan believe there is scope for independent representation outside of TAAAF.

"The expansion of the ASAP to nine members does not represent an unreasonable or unmanageable number, and would not negatively impact on the ability of the panel to achieve its goals," Morgan says in the letter. "What this expansion would do, is to ensure the GA industry is provided with valuable ‘direct’ representation and would demonstrate CASA’s commitment to genuine co-operation.

"The concerns and challenges facing the GA community at this time require clear and direct representation at the highest levels of both CASA and the government, so as to enable open and transparent debate of the issues which are holding our industry in decline and damaging our collective future.

"We must both encourage open and free debate on the topics which challenge our thinking and resolve to identify solutions that can provide maximum benefit to both safety and industry productivity."

The letter is expected to be made publically available this afternoon.

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