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

Steve Hitchen

It takes the determination and endurance of Atlas to stay the course of aircraft development. It also takes a lot of belief in the end product. Over in NZ the Vickers Wave is approaching its first flight after 10 years of work. It started as project in aluminium and has, by necessity, evolved into carbon fibre. Inevitably, the design will draw inevitable comparisons with the Icon A5, but Vickers Aircraft has wisely differentiated their product into something a little bit beyond the Icon. This is an LSA by name only. In reality it is an FAR23 aircraft with the performance to boot. Of course, actual flight tests are yet to confirm the final figures, but computer programs and simulations nowadays are good enough to provide accurate estimates. Where the Icon stumbled was in production; the cost blow-outs resulted in many orders being canceled when the promised sell price couldn't be delivered. Vickers is very aware of the pitfalls Icon discovered and has plans to circumvent them. With Icon on unstable ground and mired in legal problems, the Wave may find itself as the first-choice amphibious LSA.

Passing comment on the Federal Court ruling against Angel Flight is hampered significantly by the contempt of court laws, but the original regulations and the evidence presented by CASA are still fair game! With Angel Flight electing not to appeal, the resistance to CASA's community service flight restrictions has come to an end. This is by no means an admission that the regulator is right, but rather that the cost outlay of further action is too mind-blowing to be considered responsible. Most frustrating and galling of all is that even CASA has admitted that the restrictions will achieve nothing and the evidence presented to the court seems to support the theory that the underlying data fails to justify the action. However, the Federal Court ruled that CASA has no obligation to justify regulation based on data, which gives them a free hand with regulation. Armed with this precedent, will CASA use that free hand responsibly and fairly, or will they cloak it with a gauntlet and beat the aviation community further just because they can? The problem facing the aviation community is that–at the GA level at least–we have evidence that the operations side of CASA is better at beating than it is at being responsible and fair. Angel Flight gave it everything they had in a fight that had ramifications for the wider GA community and private pilots in particular.

After psyching myself up for an event that was promising to be part convention and part party, I won't be going to RotorTech next week. And you better believe that is killing me! With Melbourne and parts of the eastern ranges still labeled as coronavirus hotspots, the QLD government has stubbornly refused me entry to the state, which means I am stuck in Victoria rather than getting on a QF kero-burner for Brisbane. This is our new normal. Travel plans are uncertain and nothing is guaranteed. We have fallen foul; we will fall foul again. In the meantime, those who can travel freely to Brisbane would do very well for themselves to register and drop into RotorTech next week. Beginning on Tuesday, 2021 is the largest RotorTech there has ever been, which is a remarkable result when you think of the instability surrounding aviation at the moment. The event is a testimony to optimism and determination, and a sure sign the rotary aviation community is more than ready to get back on their feet and get going again. Australian Flying will be a part of that with a team headquartered at stand 1P16, sans me. If you're in the building, go and have a chat with the team.

May your gauges always in the green,


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