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

Steve Hitchen

Has the Part 103 technical working group (TWG) gone where TWGs before them have failed? The group threw the draft Part 103 Manual of Standards back at CASA declaring it unworkable in it's current form and circled the word "Dissent" on the feedback form to the regulator. And CASA has accepted it. TWGs before have tried that sort of thing before and found what they dissented about was implemented anyway. The TWGs are part of the Aviation Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) and advice by definition imposes no obligation on anyone. So why on this occasion has CASA accepted the rebuff with a simple "Yeah, nah, you're right." I am tossing around one of two reasons: CASA is regretting submitting a half-baked document, or this shows there is a thawing in the customary frosty response handed out when the aviation community tells the regulator it's wrong about something. I so want to believe the latter because it would show a siesmic shift in attitude towards the value of industry advice and an admission that expertise does exist outside the glassy doors of Aviation House. Contrast this reaction and the reaction to aviation community dissent over Part 61: chalk and cheese. This is not to say that the TWGs haven't been able to influence things in the past, they have, but in nearly every case CASA made amendments then implemented some form of Frankenstein regulation. I hope their acceptance of the Part 103 TWGs rejection of the MOS is a signal that those days may be behind us.

The fallout from the Part 103 MOS deferment included the need to keep the CAO exemptions in place for ASAOs, but CASA has agreed to amend CAO 95.55 to enable RAAus to administer aircraft with MTOWs up to 760 kg. This represents a huge win for RAAus in that it will mean some experiemental aircraft can now be built to stronger basic empty weights without cutting chunks out of the usable load, and low-end GA two-seaters can be migrated across to RAAus registration and retain their design MTOWs (if not above 760 kg). What it doesn't mean is that aircraft certified in the LSA category can suddenly start hauling up to 760 kg, or that any aircraft with an MTOW below 760  can fly over their design MTOW. It is important to understand that this is not a change in any aircraft's MTOW, but a change in what RAAus is allowed to administer. You'll also get no satisfaction if you go charging off to an LSA manufacturer begging for an increase in MTOW; as long as it's an LSA they are bound by the ASTM's 600-kg limit and to re-certify in another category would take a swag of work that would have a swag of associated cost. Part of the problem is the CASA is demanding a 760-kg MTOW with a stall speed no greater than 45 knots in the approach configuration. There's aren't a lot out there that can do it; I am told the Sling 2 is one of them. But for the other manufacturers it means effectively creating a whole new machine. So whilst the new MTOW limit is a boon for RAAus, it is not a free-for-all for existing LSA owners to wangle their way into higher MTOWs.

Last week I teased you with news of potential Wings over Illawarra competition. Now it can be revealed! WOI and Bose Australia are giving away a top-of-the-line Bose A20 noise-canceling headset to one very lucky person who flies into Wings over Illawarra. Bose Australia's Jason Xu is going to attend the camping area on the Saturday evening and will conduct a briefing on the direction of the technology and hold a Q&A session. As part of the proceedings, Jason will be raffling the A20 on the spot ... sort of like a chook raffle with a very high-tech chook. There is only one way to get in on this: be there in the camping area at WOI on the night of Saturday 27 November. Honestly, do you have somewhere else better to be on that night?

The 2021 CASA Wings Awards are now closed and won't be re-opening. We have a plethora of nominations to work through so please be patient with the judging panel, which has a lot of work ahead of them this year. Thanks to all those that nominated this year, it shows the CASA Wings Awards are going from strength to strength.

May your gauges always be in the green,


comments powered by Disqus