– Steve Hitchen
Minister Catherine King's announcement of a SAF council for Australia is very good news for innovation and jobs creation in Australia. The international aviation industry has committed itself to a SAF future, and even now the volume of SAF used around the world is rising in thousands of litres per year. Two of the major ingredients needed to produce SAF are lots of spare land and buckets of sunshine. Sound like any country we know? Australia is beautifully placed to make the world's supply of aviation fuel going a long way into the future, but my fear is that this council could be a couple of prime ministers too late. SAF is already being manufactured in commerical quantities in other countries, which means Australia is late to market and, until lately, the SAF industry here has not been supported. We are behind the rest of the world, and now have some catch-up to play. The new Gladstone facility is a great step forward, and establishing a working council to mature the industry should help Australia nab a large portion of the world market. And critically, it should also secure our supply of aviation fuel without having to rely on importing so much from other countries.
How do you solve a problem like Mangalore? It was once thought a Surveillance Flight Information Service (SFIS) was the trick, but now apparently not. CASA's Office of Airspace Regulation (OAR) report came out this week ruling out a Mandatory Broadcast Area (MBA) around Mangalore, which knocked out the main supporting pillar of SFIS. Instead, the OAR has recommended a safety seminar and updating some documents. Sorry, Mangalore is a much bigger problem than that. The area is criss-crossed daily by every imaginable form of aviation from GA training to parachutists, hang glider, gliders, transiting aircraft and IFR aircraft doing training on the VOR. It's congested airspace and an area where safety is compromised by traffic volumes. So what was it that prompted OAR to scotch the MBA idea? That's a contentious question right there. It wasn't Airservices; they were the main proponent of the SFIS idea in the first place. Could the local stakeholders have raised objections robust enough to over-power the Airservices proposal? It is very hard to believe that the recommendations in this report adequately address all the problems the stakeholders raised. In the meantime, Mangalore CTAF continues on in its own frenetic way, tempered slightly by Airservices' promise to keep up the Safety Alerting Service, a temporary fix that–like so many other temporary fixes–looks to stay in place for some time.
Registrations for Ausfly are open! The Australian General Aviation Alliance (AGAA) national fly-in is only two months away now and things are starting to ramp-up at Narromine. One look at the published program and you'll see more than 20 different seminar sessions plus the Sport Aircraft Association of Australia AGM, a public flying display and evening social events to keep you busy. The expo line-up looks pretty healthy thanks to extensive industry support, so it's very clear the GA community wants Ausfly. I have already registered and scored myself some handy accommodation (the first thing is easier to do than the second!) and am looking forward to a great few days. With a bit of good management, I'll catch up with a lot of you there.
May your gauges always be in the green,