• GA has been under dark clouds for some years. Could the Aviation Recovery Framework mean CAVOK conditions ahead? (Steve Hitchen)
    GA has been under dark clouds for some years. Could the Aviation Recovery Framework mean CAVOK conditions ahead? (Steve Hitchen)

The Federal Government today released a plan for the recovery of the aviation industry that includes several measures long thought to be critical to the revitalisation of general aviation.

The Aviation Recovery Framework, announced today by Deputy Prime MInister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Barnaby Joyce, is aimed primarily at recovery from the pandemic, but also acknowledges the condition of the general aviation industry and contains initiatives that have the potential to stimulate growth.

Among the GA measures are a review of the Civil Aviation Act 1988 and the regulations surrounding privatised airports, and subsidies to encourage owners to fit ADS-B to VFR aircraft.

The goverment will also extend the regional and remote airports funding schemes and commit $4 million to encourage women to enter the aviation industry.

“Aviation is integral to our national supply chains, providing essential services to regional and remote communities and connecting Australian businesses with international markets," Joyce said.

“Importantly, general aviation is a key pillar in our strategy. This is in recognition of the many critical services it contributes to the sector, none more important than flight and maintenance training capability.

“The Framework builds on the assistance we have provided to date and will provide the policy and financial settings aviation operators need to recover strongly and grow on the other side of the pandemic.”

The overall framework has been built on six strategic priorities:

  • supporting aviation efficiency by targeting investment and enhancing regulatory settings to help businesses across the entire industry to thrive
  • building a sustainable pipeline of workforce skills for the future
  • adopting and integrating emerging aviation technologies, including drones
  • modernising airports regulation to ensure Australia has the aviation infrastructure it needs for the future
  • revitalising general aviation to help it realise its potential in supporting business and the community, especially in our regions, and
  • better connecting regional communities by providing targeted support for access to essential aviation services and investing in regional aviation infrastructure.

According to the framework, the initiatives will be phased in over the next two to four years, guided by advice from a new Strategic Aviation Advisory Forum, the make up of which has yet to be disclosed. The department has also noted that the framework builds on the work of the General Aviation Advisory Network (GAAN) and the Future of Aviation Reference Panel.

Among the measures that are thought to impact GA the most are:

  • revisting the Airports Act 1996, which sunsets in April 2024, and the regulatory framework surrounding privatised airports, indicating that goverment approval of future master plans will focus on aircraft operations including development to support GA
  • reviewing the government approach to aviation security with the aim to reducing red tape
  • commissioning further research from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) to establish the value of GA and identify growth opportunities
  • reviewing the Civil Aviation Act 1988 to identify and resolve regulatory bottlenecks and encourage regulatory activity based on outcomes
  • removing barriers to export through mutual international recognition
  • subsidise eligible aircraft owners to fit ADS-B, starting in Q1 2022 and ending 30 June 2023 or when funding is exhausted
  • examine training pathways with a focus on the relationships between CASA, Vocational Education Training and the Australia Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)
  • providing funding of $4 million to encourage women to participate in aviation.

 CASA Director of Aviation Safety and CEO Pip Spence said today that CASA already had a reform agenda that was consistent with the announced framework.

"CASA has quietly begun working on a wide range of reforms that will benefit many people and organisations across the aviation community, particularly in the general aviation sector," Spence said. "These align with the commitments made by the Australian Government today in their Aviation Recovery Framework.

"You will see concrete outcomes in the course of 2022 and beyond.

"Work is underway to make regulatory changes that will assist private pilots, general aviation maintenance, maintenance training, flying training, aerial work, aerial application and sport and recreational flying.

"We are developing a general aviation work plan for 2022 and this body of work will build a consolidated picture of all the activity we already have underway.

"We're also continuing to look at what improvements and changes we need to make that will benefit other sectors in the industry."

Among the reforms in development at CASA are:

  • reducing maintenance costs for industry to support private and aerial work operators, including the mandatory Cessna SIDs program, introducing new GA maintenance regulations and considering new rules for aircraft maintenance
  • supporting flight training including expanding privileges for some flight instructors to improve flight testing, revisiting how CASA administers the Flight Examiner Rating, and working with industry to prioritise other initiatives
  • looking at ways to improve access to training and reviewing the fatigue rules for aerial application operators in regional and remote areas
  • considering a new small aircraft maintenance licence to address training limitations impacting the GA sector,
  • putting in place a weight increase for aircraft administered by RAAus, reviewing the associated stall speed
  • reviewing aviation medical standards for private operations including a potential "self-declared" Class 5 medical.

The Aviation Recovery Framework document is available from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development website.

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