Aviation Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Business Association (AMROBA) Director Ken Cannane says that 2014 is a year that general aviation should look to with optimism.
Cannane made the comments at a meeting in Melbourne last Friday during which 40 general aviation people had the opportunity to air their grievances about regulation with an attentive Senator David Fawcett.
"I have optimism only because the political support and direction that's now being shown by our government," Cannane told Australian Flying after the meeting. It needed to hit the brick wall for some government to realise what it is."
"I personally believe this government wants to make a change. I've had a number of meetings with members of the government, I've had a number of meetings with politicians–there's a few in the opposition that are supportive of aviation; the commitment to it I believe is well and truly there by the minister we currently have, and I believe that the other senators and ministers that are involved with aviation ... are totally supportive of an aviation industry in this country."
The meeting aired many concerns, each one of which Senator Fawcett responded to individually. The over-arching concern was that unnecessary regulation was driving maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and charter companies out of business.
"Every organisation is raising the same subject matter, the same criticisms and the fact that their being put out of business simply because of the bureaucracy, the red tape that's growing is killing them," Cannane elaborated
"It's not only just maintenance. We have had operators at all of the meetings and their saying the same thing. It's a consistent message that the regulatory system being developed is creating so much red tape that it's actually crucifying the industry and killing it off.
"I think this is aviation's last chance to get it right in this country. We're talking about right through charter right up into even the smaller regional airlines. If you look at the situation that's gone on over the last 20-odd years, every change that's been put out regulatory-wise had virtually shut down a regional operation to rural Australia. Services to regional towns–whether it's by charter or regional airline–are decreasing because of the paperwork.
"The whole process we want to see come back to a practical approach–and still maintain safety–so that we can get some of these businesses back up and running."
The aim of the meeting was to gather industry opinion and feed it to the Aviation Safety Regulation Review chaired by former Airservices chief David Forsyth. Senator Fawcett commented that he believed the review would result in regulation for a sustainable general aviation industry in Australia.
"I am confident the review will produce a balanced report," he told the meeting. "Then it's up to the likes of me to drive it through parliament. As a government, it is up to us to put in place a regulatory framework to ensure the industry is sustainable."