– Steve Hitchen
TAAAF's submission to the RRAT hearing on Angel Flight is very straight-forward and brief: they support the ATSB findings and the CASA restrictions placed on any community service pilot. Immediately having read this, I metaphorically checked the back of the page to see where the rest of it was. It's not like TAAAF to put in such a thin submission without the justification behind it, especially one that could be controversial within the associations' memberships. The industry is so divided over this issue that I can't really see consensus anywhere, and for TAAAF to achieve that would be a mighty effort indeed. But did they achieve it? Some straw-polling of members has revealed that the TAAAF secretariat did their homework with the membership before sending off the paper, but not all associations are 100% in agreement. Am I surprised? No. I have always considered TAAAF a micro-copy of the Australian aviation industry, and as the industry itself can never get togther on one issue, I could hardly expect that TAAAF would be able to do it either.
The issue of self-certified medicals is never far below the surface and every now and then something happens to spark the issue again. In this case, it's the discussion paper on an MTOW increase for RAAus. AOPA Australia noted very keenly that the proposals would allow pilots in the new category (601-760 kg MTOW) to fly without a CASA medical if they register with RAAus. Bull, meet red rag. AOPA views the whole medical regime through crimson-coloured glasses and now they see that CASA is extending a "bias" toward RAAus even further. The question needs to be asked: are these two issues inseparably linked? RAAus first made the connection in their submission to the AVMED discussion in 2017 when they stated for the record that if GA pilots got a relaxed medical standard then RAAus would have to be compensated with an MTOW up to 1500 kg or they may become unviable through revenue loss. Effectively, AOPA Australia is asking for the same thing: RAAus can have their 760 kg MTOW, but GA needs to be compensated with a relaxed medical standard. It seems the two are very much linked in the eyes of the main protagonists as both have made statements at various time that have tied the two together like a formation of Tiger Moths.
Last Sunday even I watched a great event unfold: the final ever round of the Red Bull Air Race. It was not so much that this was the last race in history, but that it clinched a long-deserved title for Australia's Matt Hall. Those who followed the series keenly would know that it was always Matt's ambition to take home the championship trophy. He'd come so very close three times in his career and been thwarted each time. On Sunday night, you could see the tumblers falling into place for Matt to unlock his dream. Martin Sonka fell early, then Pete McLeod's Final 4 penalties opened some breathing space for the Aussie to cruise to third place and secure the championship by a solitary point. His dream became reality in the very last round of the very last day of Red Bull Air Race, courtesy of a suddenly-truncated season that left Hall with little room to make mistakes if he wanted to be in the title race. Matt Hall Racing won only one race for the season, in Hungary. Yoshi Muroya won the other three in a dominant display of the whole series. It was Hall's consistency that roped in the points regularly and eventually delivered him the ultimate prize. Congratulations, Matt Hall Racing; surely one of the most deserved championships in motor sport history.
May your gauges always be in the green,