– Steve Hitchen
Ever since the unknown term "ADS-B" was first uttered in Australia some 15-odd years ago, subsidies for fitting to aircraft have been talked about. The analogy with fitment subsidies when transponders first came out has been one of the most popular justifications coming from owners of private aircraft. After all these years, the scheme is set to launch on 17 June. However, it won't be the broad-brush grant program that has been demanded because it doesn't include IFR aircraft. Oddly, that makes sense as all IFR aircraft should have been fitted by the start of 2020, so there's nothing to be gained by making the subsidy retrospective when the whole idea is to encourage further fitment. That's a piece of reality that will taste somewhat sour to those that actively pursued the "no mandate without subsidy" platform in the years heading up to the start of the mandate. Perhaps the most high-profile was Dick Smith, who famously sold his Citation and donated the money to charity rather than swallow the $100K upgrade bill to make it compliant. Both CASA and Airservices have been alarmed at the poor uptake of ADS-B in private VFR aircraft even after the approval of non-TSO equipment to make it cheaper and easier, so the subsidy has been brought in to get things moving. They will be hoping it makes a huge difference, because if the program fails to deliver the desired results, they're out of ideas short of another mandate.
The Australian Aviation Assocations Forum (TAAAF) this week completed their 2022 policy paper. This is something they've traditionally done in the lead-up to a federal election to make sure politicians know what their member associations are thinking. The TAAAF paper this year has served to further reinforce what the aviation industry needs Canberra to do get us out from underneath the standing wave that has been pushing the aviation economy down for years. If you take into account also the General Aviation Advisory Network (GAAN) strategy, the interim report from the senate inquiry into the GA industry and the Coalition's Aviation Recovery Framework, there should be no politician in Australia that is still blind to the reforms and overhauls needed to get us flying again ... unless they are deliberately looking the other way. All of those documents have common themes that surely Canberra is awake to now: reform the act, fix training pathways, sort out airport access problems, do something about CASA's culture and simplify regulations to remove burden. Nothing more needs to be said at this time, and no more submissions need to be made. What the GA community will be wanting to see in the coming six weeks is that the people who want our votes have at least read this mass of source material when they come to sell themselves to us. Our problem is that the needs of GA will be, as usual, completely swamped in mud fight over more vote-winning issues.
Lake Macquarie has finally been confirmed as the venue for the Australian round of the ARWC. Being Matt Hall's backyard, the city was always in the box seat to get the race, and was probably even the only venue seriously considered. And why not? The lake geography makes it a perfect fit for the track and there are good spots on the shores to harbour the 150,000 people that are thought to be itching to get in on the fun. A good population base nearby will supply accommodation and dining for the masses. And let's face it: it's a pretty place that will look good on the cameras that carry the story to the world. Even in it hadn't been Hall's sandpit, Lake Macquarie would still have been an ideal place. Start making plans and bookings now; race fans will be on the move already.
Right now is the best time to take out a subscription to Australian Flying, the best and longest-running GA magazine in the country. With Easter upon us, we have launched our traditional subscription deal, which this year will net you a 30% saving over the print and digital subscription package. That works out at six great issues for $41.00. We're holding that deal open until close of business on Monday night, so there's time for you to get on board this weekend. We're looking forward to giving you the most informative and enteraining general aviation material every eight weeks. Go to the Great Magazines website and, as a man once said many years ago, do yourself a favour.
May your gauges always be in the green,