Three major general aviation associations have formed the Australian General Aviation Alliance (AGAA) in order to provide what they say is better represention of GA interests.
Announced today, AGAA's founding members are AOPA Australia (AOPA), Sport Aircraft Association of Australia (SAAA) and the Aviation Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Business Association (AMROBA).
AOPA CEO Ben Morgan said that the intent of AGAA is to strengthen the position of GA in Canberra.
"Each of our Alliance members have identified the value of working together to build unity and consensus on our industry's most important issues, ensuring that general aviation speaks with a clear voice, whilst recognising the importance of each association's individual identity and membership," he said.
"Standing together, our Alliance will tackle the complex and difficult regulatory issues and is committed to the goal of achieving general aviation revitalisation through joint industry promotion, air shows and events, youth engagement, safety awareness and advocacy."
Both AOPA and AMROBA have been members of The Australian Aviation Associations Forum (TAAAF) in recent years, but over the past six months have found themselves at odds with TAAAF policy, particularly when it comes to the issue of 457 visas for pilots. There has also been some discontent over the perceived power of the Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) and the Aerial Application Association of Australia (AAAA) within TAAAF.
TAAAF Chairman Greg Russell told Australian Flying that he was disappointed in today's announcement, but felt the move would not weaken TAAAF's influence in Canberra.
"We really have been making some progress through TAAAF and our relationships not just with CASA, but with the department and I'm confident that will continue. We've broadened the number of associations that have been interested in what we've been doing over the past 12 months.
"I've been around the industry long enough to know that people have their own agendas and if they feel they can be better represented through this association [AGAA], well that's the way life is."
Russell was very quick to dampen suggestions that regional and agricultural aviation sectors had too much influence on TAAAF policy.
"We reject that absolutely. I'm coming up for three years in this role now, and I've always found the TAAAF meetings largely to be collegiate and people's views are normally taken in to account. There are some times when we can't form one opinion because of separate views, but there's been no evidence of that sort of thing [undue influence] whilst I've been in the chair, and I wouldn't anticipate it."
The three founding members of AGAA have encouraged other associations to consider joining the alliance.