– Steve Hitchen
That's it; we've run out of time to decide who we're going to vote for. Tomorrow is election day and we have to make our marks on bits of paper that endorse, in our own minds, a political platform that we are unlikely to agree with all of. For a few seconds we are confined in cardboard carrels armed only with a small pencil and some extremely-biased how-to-vote-for-me cards. Unfortunately, for those who are entering this election still uncertain, the rhetoric around aviation is no help whatsoever ... but then it never has been. Aviation promises have been made in this election just as they have in elections past, but as "non-core" commitments, have never been on any solid ground. No, tomorrow we are consigned to ignoring our own passion for aviation and voting on more populist matters simply because we aren't in a position to trust what we've been told.
The E over D issue continues to burn beneath the surface like a peat fire. There have been a lot of questions thrown at Airservices Australia since the announcement of the change program, and many of them been responded to in a less than satisfactory way. From what I have seen, there are two basic battlegrounds: the proposal and the process. Regional airlines and the ATPLs that fly the aircraft have history in opposing Class E over Class D airports, and that looks to continue, but perhaps with a renewed vigour. Meanwhile, AsA has had to field complaints that due process has not been followed. Given that the final decision is in the hands of CASA's Office of Airspace Regulation (OAR), it does seem interesting that AsA is making definitive statements about implementing E over D. The first softening-up shots have now been fired, with the news that responsibility for en route traffic over 4500 feet at Class D airports has been swapped from the towers to the centres. This looks like a rehearsal for getting the E Class in place, which is likely to stir the hackles of those that oppose the changes.
Airservices, CASA and the Department have long been plagued with an inability to communicate with any clarity. It seems that everything that comes from those three is infected with legalese language that totally obscures the meaning. This is not good when aviation safety is at stake. However, CASA is now acting on an ASRR recommendation by having a crack at a Plain English version of CASR Part 91. These are the basic operation rules for aviation in Australia, so you can imagine it's pretty important that they are clear or we won't have everyone flying under the same understanding. CASA has released a mock-up draft of what the text might look like, and from my point of view, it seems they're not doing such a bad job. The language is very close to that used in the Visual Flight Rules Guide (VFRG), which most of us use as a way of interpreting the rules anyway. In the past I have expressed the concern that the Office of Legal Council will stomp on the idea of plain English regs, and that fear is still there, but if CASA can get this sort of document in place for all the CASRs then we'll be in a better place.
May your gauges always be in the green,