– Steve Hitchen
Am I the only person who thinks the Albanese government is doing the aviation white paper all arse-about? So far, the process has been to call for submissions on the Terms of Reference–itself a weird thing to do–then go straight to the green paper stage after some chats with industry bodies. When exactly does Ashley Average get to have some input to the green paper? The answer, apparently, is not at all. The chance will be there after the green paper has been released, but it will be much harder to get issues into the stream if they are not mentioned in the green paper ... unless they are politically attractive. This is not to say that the government has been ignoring the industry; to be fair they have been canvassing issues with representative groups and associations, but this is giving off an odour of covert skullduggery, because the wider GA community is not involved nor made privvy to these conversations. It may be that everything is above board, but we have no way of knowing that. The previous Labor white paper, which turned out to be junk, at least gave us a chance to have an individual voice in the green paper that preceded it. Our only hope is that the advocates that have been consulted remembered the little people of the GA community in their discussions.
RAAus is yet to get the green light from CASA to administer the new 760-kg Group G category of aircraft, but already RAAus has set their sights on even larger aircraft thanks to the FAA's NPRM on a new definition of LSA. This does look a bit like trying to run before you've proven you can walk, but that's exactly what the GA community needs RAAus to do. Lyrical sounds coming from CASA are dropping hints that the regulator will adopt the new ASTM standard once it's written, which will be a watershed moment for both general and recreational aviation. But, even though they may prefer not to admit it, CASA will need help from the industry in making it happen, and I can guarantee you now they'll turn to RAAus as the prime source of that assistance. And why not? RAAus actually sits on the ASTM committee that will write the standard, and by the time it's ready to implement, they will have significant influence via the Technical Working Groups. This places RAAus as the primary advocate for non-commercial aviation in Australia. There's good and bad in that. Good in that they have demonstrated a degree of preparedness to advocate for private GA to the extent that there's no conflict with the interests of their members. Bad in that these conflicts are certain to arise, meaning GA will be left without an advocate in some cases. Really, it's unfair on RAAus to be expected to shoulder GA advocacy in those circumstances, and organisations who have traditionally claimed to be the voice of GA need to pull their weight. Should RAAus be granted the full extent of MOSAIC, we can expect their membership and influence to increase by around 50%. Both they and the GA community need to be prepared for that.
The knives are out for GippsAero over the 2019 crash in Sweden. I want to pause for a minute and remember that nine people died in that crash, which is a shocking tragedy that has devastated the families of those that lost their lives. I think I can safely speak for the GA community in expressing our condolences. Now, those families are suing the manufacturer of the Airvan 8 involved because they say the flight manual didn't give sufficient guidance on how to safely off-load parachutists. The legal language in the filing is more complex than that, but that's the guts of it. In fact, the flight manual contained a supplement on parachute ops that said no more than five jumpers can congregate aft of the leading edge of the door. According to the Swedish investigators, control of the Airvan was lost because all eight parachutists headed for the door at once, shifting the CoG aft and causing a stall. It is critical to note that the Swedes made no adverse findings nor recommendations for GippsAero to act on, and that no design faults in the Airvan were found. It all comes down to the content of the flight manual and nothing else. This actually puts the content of all flight manuals in all aircraft on trial. Flight manuals set the limits of safe operation; anything outside that and you're a test pilot. Many flight manuals contain broad statements about safe operations rather than go millimetre prescriptive, presuming the pilot and operator have some aerodynamic knowledge and a sense of self preservation. If this case is successful, it may force a revision of all flight manuals to take into account injudicious operation of the aircraft.
We at Yaffa Media are very pleased to present the GA community with the latest issue of Australian Flying. This one, September-October 2023, celebrates the 60th anniversary of the very first issue, which was produced in 1963. We've made this a special collectors' edition that look back on our heritage, but also looks forward to the future of general aviation as well. From the very beginning, Australian Flying was a child brought-up by a community, and all of the Australian GA industry has the right to be proud of the publication that each and every member contributed to in some way. Make sure you get this issue into your collection soonest, as a reminder of your own contribution to the magazine's heritage.
May your gauges always be in the green,