• New regulations could see examples of Cessna's iconic C152 registered with RAAus. (Steve Hitchen)
    New regulations could see examples of Cessna's iconic C152 registered with RAAus. (Steve Hitchen)

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority this week published the feedback submitted on the proposal to allow Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus) to administer aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of up to 760 kg.

Currently, an Approved Self-administering Aviation Organisation (ASAO) such as RAAus is restricted to administering aircraft up to only 600 kg MTOW.

According to CASA, the feedback has significantly endorsed a new weight increase, either completely or with some modifications to the proposed new rule.

The Discussion Paper canvassed three different options:

  1. maintain the status quo and make no changes to MTOW limits
  2. amend the MTOW limits to 760 kg in CAO 95.55 and CASR Part 149 and develop CASR Part 103 Sport and Recreational Aviation Regulations and the Part 103 Manual of Standards (MOS) with the new limit
  3. provide CASA with a policy proposal that had not been considered.

"Option 2 received majority support from the aviation community," CASA reports, "with 337 (82.6%) of respondents in favour of amending the MTOW limit as presented in the discussion paper.

"Of the 337 in favour, 244 responses fully supported the proposition. An additional 54 supported Option 2, but also suggested the scope of the proposition be expanded to include an increase to the maximum permissible stall speed [45 KIAS] in landing configuration and/or permit owner maintenance."

CASA reports that Option 1–maintain the status quo–received limited support, with only 69 respondents (16.9%) perferring that course of action. The main objections to the new weight limit were:

  • lack of equality in flight standards between RAAus and CASA administrations
  • differences in medical standard for the same aircraft under different administration
  • high cost to industry
  • maintenance rule issues

One person who fully supported the weight increase was aviation journalist, home-builder and recreational flyer Martin Hone.

"I believe that the weight increase will allow more people to be able to take up flying as a recreation, and for those of us already involved, it will increase range of aircraft available as well as having the potential to make it more affordable," he said in his feedback.

"The vast majority of people that fly for fun under the existing 600 kg limit do so safely and affordably. I see no reason why this would change given a further weight increase, same as all the previous weight increases from 400 kg, 450 kg, 545 kg and now 600 kg MTOW.

"The amateur-built aircraft and the ultralight aircraft movements have more than sufficiently proven that simplified regulation of recreational aircraft, along with sensible medical standards, can provide a positive outcome for all involved."

Ken Cannane, Executive Director of the Aviation Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Business Association (AMROBA) said his organisation was not only not in favour of the MTOW increase, but questioned the validity of CASA handing administration to ASAOs.

"AMROBA sees the Part 149 [ASAO] concept is a breach of government's anti-competitive principles and requirements by providing different standards depending if you are VH registered or not.

"AMROBA supports resurrection of the 'parallel regulatory pathway' that applies competitive principle to both sectors.
EASA has achieved this in setting maintenance personnel standards. TCA has achieved this for pilots."

Cannane also expressed concern that the proposal would benefit only owners of aircraft registered with ASAOs, but would be detrimental to the VH-registered community and could potentially cost jobs with maintenance companies.

CASA has said that it will begin drafting regulations for a new MTOW for ASAOs and will advise the industry of any changes to the maximum stall speed.

The CASA summary and published feedback is available on the CASA Consultation Hub.

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