– Steve Hitchen
CASA is taking a bit of a nothing-to-see-here approach to the restructure, calling it a simple internal realignment. That may be the case for them, but there is potential for this to be a filip for general aviation. The GA/Recreational/Sport office is being transferred from Aviation Group to Stakeholder Engagement. So what have the Romans done for us? They've distanced non-passenger-carrying aviation from the intense regulations applied to commercial operations. Unfortunately, charter operations will remain behind, having been defined out of GA. It may achieve nothing over time, but it is tacit recognition that GA doesn't belong in the same bed as RPT ops and needs to be dealt with differently. Handing it to Stakeholder Engagement looks on paper to be a curious move; what do marketers and data analysts know about aviation? I suspect this could be leading to a re-branding of the group overseen by Rob Walker, which could include expansion. As it is, responsibility for CASR Part 149 on ASAOs will be going to Stakeholder Engagement, including the technical working groups that are already within Walker's sphere of influence. This realignment shortens the distance between feedback and regulations, which limits the opportunity for interference. It also makes Walker the man on the spot: he is responsible for both gathering the feedback and converting it into regulation. Fun times ahead.
Yes! After 31 years of embarrassing regulation reform the project looks to be finally done. With CASA announcing the last three CASRs signed into law, they can put their quills back into their ink wells. That's the theory anyway. The reality is that although we're sticking out the "Mission Accomplished" sign like George W Bush, there is still a lot of work to do. Several of the CASR Parts were ill-informed and rushed into law without regard to whether or not they were actually functional. The boxes were ticked, but the products need a lot of re-work. There has been plenty said about Part 61, but there is still a lot to come to the surface over the next year and that will mean we'll all have to take up our pens once again. In the case of Part 61, the issue of flight training (also handed to Stakeholder Engagement) has become the paramount issue. To put it as basically as possible: we're running out of them and Part 61 makes it hard to get more. So there's still plenty to do on regulation. Consider also that some CASRs never existed as CARs (for example, Part 149) and are still effectively under construction. It seems there's still so much that needs to be done that it will never feel like the mission has indeed been accomplished ... just like George W Bush.
One thing we can take into 2020 is the potential of the General Aviation Advisory Network (GAAN). There is a good vibe around this that was never around its predecessor, the General Aviation Advisory Group (GAAG). GAAN is more that simply a re-brand, under Andrew Andersen it will function differently, have more energy and is supported better than GAAG was. That means it can work more effectively and has a better chance of influencing departmental policy. Almost every sector of GA is represented in the network, which presents a bit of ying and a bit of yang. The expertise they bring means the advice sent to the minister won't be lacking, but also comes with specialised interest. As most of the members represent interest groups, they may at time find themselves being asked to support a position that contravenes their own good. That's a tough ask, but it's what GA needs to go forward. As we stare down the barrel of 2020, I am feeling optimistic about what GAAN can achieve in the coming year, and that Andersen is the one person who can unite the GA community through GAAN. Hopefully we'll have some good stories to tell
This is our last entry for the year 2019. The Last Minute Hitch and the weekly newsletter go into hiatus now until mid January. As is customary, I've taken a stroll back through the aviation forest of 2019 and revisited some of the stories that took up so many column-inches throughout the year. In doing so, I re-encountered several headlines that I don't believe I would have fathomed I'd be writing this time last year. It does make me think what the year ahead is going to bring. The most obvious three are the implementation of CASR Part 149, the RAAus MTOW increase and the relentless saga of community service flights. But there are more changes sticking their heads around corners; we just can't get a good sighting of them at the moment. The medicals issue is not done by a long shot and I suspect I will be writing several heads around this in the future. Physical licences may be set for a revamp to something workable and wheels are already in motion to resolve the flying instructor pipeline blockage. Lesser echoes sound about making leased airport operators more accountable for their dealings with business owners and the never-ending concerns about ageing aircraft. I am already keen to see what I write about at this time next year.
May your gauges always be in the green,