• Australian Flying editor Steve Hitchen. (Kevin Hanrahan)
    Australian Flying editor Steve Hitchen. (Kevin Hanrahan)

Steve Hitchen

You have to applaud the courage and honesty of Ray Cronin. The AHIA president stood up at RotorTech last week and stated straight forward that pilots were to blame for most of the accidents in the helicopter industry. It made a very refreshing change from people blaming the system, or management or the alignment of the planets. This was problem ownership at its best. Cronin spoke about poor decision-making skills, and although he was referring to the helicopter community, what he was saying has application in the fixed-wing world as well. This is not to say the every pilot is to solely to blame for every accident in which they are involved; to do so would be to devalue the Swiss cheese theory so widely accepted by investigators right around the world. But it seems to me that one of the holes in the cheese belongs to the pilot of the aircraft. They are responsible for the alignment of their hole, and somewhere in nearly every accident you can see where the pilot made a decision that, had they zigged instead of zagged, the crash may not have happened. Part of the solution is owning the problem, which is what Cronin and AHIA have done.

Setting up any centralised system that replaces a structure based in the regions is usually very traumatic for the organisation. Those in the regions feel like empowerment has been taken away from them and, often but not always, people in the regions are quick to point out how fallible the central system is. So CASA's project to create a Guidance Delivery Centre (which always sounds to me like it has something to do with rockets) to provide more consistent advice was always going to be ambitious ... even if it is the right answer for the aviation industry. As an all-answers-in-one-place solution, there has been a lot of pressure on GDC from the outset and it shouldn't be surprising that it has wobbled a bit at the start. That hasn't been helped by the mass of other changes going on within CASA, which has placed the organisation in a state of reconstitution. On the good side of the ledger, both CEO Pip Spence and chair Mark Binskin believe in the concept, and they are applying enough slack to let the system bed itself in. In short, the industry is going to wear the pain of delays inevitable under such change until GDC is up to its cruise speed. However, the aviation community will accept (albeit begrudgingly) the situation for only so long, after which they will want to see GDC performing absolutely as advertised.

All those who were keyed-up and ready for the Brisbane Airshow this weekend are going to have to cool their jets for another week, which shouldn't be hard to do given the weather forecast: 16oC tomorrow with 20-35 mm of rain. The organisers made the call to postpone it for one week to 9-10 July, which can be a more difficult thing to do than postponing it for a year. Display aircraft may be scheduled to be elsewhere, volunteers may have planned other things for next weekend as indeed may have members of the general public. A shift of one week is an upheaval of more than just seven days delay. But there is a chance that the show will go on next Saturday, which is better than the odds you would have given it for tomorrow.

Nominations for the 2022 CASA Wings Awards officially open on Monday 4 July. The collector will remain open until 26 October. The success of the Wings Awards so far is nothing short of exciting. I was unable to attend the presentations at Bathurst on the weekend due to a non-COVID lurgy, which deprived me of seeing how much these awards actually mean to the GA community. The emotion had been palpable earlier in June when I was at the presentation of the Col Pay Award to Borg Sorensen, so I had a good idea of the impact recognition can have for the winners. It's such a simple thing, but it means so much. The sort of people who win the Col Pay are, by nature, not the types to nominate themselves; they rely on others. And that means you. If you know a person who deserves the 2022 Col Pay Award, then you need to put together the justification and get the nomination in. The same goes for the other CASA Wings Awards categories: Aero Club of the Year, Flying Training Organisation of the Year, Flying Instructor of the Year and Young Achiever of the Year. The impact winning has is such a positive thing that you have the ability to deliver to someone if you do the ground work to nominate them.

May your gauges always be in the green,


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