AOPA Australia CEO Ben Morgan came away from a meeting with CASA executives earlier this month confident that the regulator understands the need for general aviation reform.
Morgan met with CASA executives including Chairman Mark Binksin and Director of Aviation Safety (DAS) Pip Spence to discuss the general aviation workplan.
"I had the opportunity to meet with the Chair of the CASA board and the DAS and her executive team, and we're always very appreciative of the ongoing meetings that we are having," he told Australian Flying. "It is clear that CASA understands that there is a need for change.
"At our last meeting it could not have been clearer that there was a consensus in the room that the privileges that are contained within the FAA regulations are something that we need to get done here in Australia.
"I was heartened to hear from the Chair that he held a view that there needs to be change."
Fueling Morgan's optimism is the performance of DAS Pip Spence, who took over as CASA boss over 12 months ago and has overseen the development of the GA workplan. Morgan says Spence is clearly prepared to listen, which throws the onus on advocates to get their arguments straight.
"I've been public in the past with a lot of support for Pip Spence, I think that's she's actually a great DAS," he said. "She's demonstrated that she's always willing to sit, listen and give a fair audience on issues, so I remain really positive in that respect.
"It's on us to advocate and prosecute our case; it's on us as an industry to make sure that we put our best argument forward if there is to be change, and I think there are great arguments for positive change and I think [CASA] understands that."
AOPA Australia, like several other GA lobby groups, has long advocated for the Australian CASRs to be replaced with the USA's Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR), which a succession of CASA Directors of Aviation Safety have resisted in favour of completing the regulatory reform program that began in 1988.
According to Morgan, CASA is still showing no interest in make such a substantial change, preferring to deliver new privileges with the architecture of the existing CASRs.
"Obviously there was a difference of opinion that CASA feels that they can get these changes done within the Australian regulatory framework," he said. "I'd like to believe that they can do that.
"In fact, I'd love nothing more than for CASA to get that done, because we aren't taking any pleasure in being in a position where we're fighting every day of the week to get sensible reform. We just want to get it done."
AOPA Australia clearly feels that the GA community is on the cusp of meaningful reforms; reforms that are the result of years of hard work by AOPA and other advocates. Morgan's campaign for change has been relentless, which he believes is only ever the result of long, hard fights.
"If you want to change the system, you have to have a continuous, tenacious battle, and I think that's what AOPA has been doing over the past five years," he said. "I think we've brought a sense of urgency and awareness around some of the critical issues that has laid a foundation so that change can happen.
"I'm seeing that change happen. The GA roadmap, which is being highly criticised by some in advocacy world, I actually see it as a reasonable roadmap ... if they are committed to getting it done.
"CASA time and time again say the right thing, but then fail to deliver, and I don't that's an out-of-line comment; it's factual."
Two of the key reforms currently in the pipeline are changes to CASR Part 67 to permit self-declared medicals for PPLs as well as a raft of other measures, and developing Part 43, which would introduce new engineering and maintenance rules for general aviation aircraft used in private and airwork operations.
Both parts stand to reduce regulatory burden for GA, and Morgan anticipates that both will go through despite the change of government in Canberra.
"CASA had the support of the Liberal/National government to do this," Morgan points out, "and I hope they've got the support of the Labor government to get this done, because it would not make any sense to stop these reforms.
"We're entering a very interesting time. We may very well be at a crossroad where there is a signal from CASA that the types of change the industry has been pleading for can be done."