– Steve Hitchen
AirVenture Australia looks set to go ahead as an event for the whole general aviation community. If this is the case, it's a great win for aviation after a week of what can best be described as blood-letting. With a funding disaster looming on the horizon, the organisers and the backing groups did the only thing they could reasonably do: settled down, went back to their own corners and re-focused getting AirVenture back on track. Thanks to a crowd-funding exercise from the SAAA, it looks like AirVenture is not only a goer, but perhaps even stronger than before. There are still a lot of signatures needed to get it over the line, and we will probably know more in the coming days, but you'd have to say it's looking good. What has come out of all of this most strongly is the signal that the general aviation community really wants a free-spirit national fly-in along the lines of Oshkosh in the USA.
CASA presented the Airvan 10 type certificate to Mahindra/GippsAero this week, marking only the second time a civil turbine-powered aircraft has been certified in Australia. This is a great achievement for the company, and elevates them to the status of serious player in the single-engine turbo-prop game. The path to success for the Airvan 10 won't be straight and narrow, however. Although the aeroplane is aimed at a niche market and theoretically not in competition with the Cessna Caravan and Quest Kodiak, the US manufacturers won't be happy with a more economical alternative eroding their market. GippsAero has already raised the hackles of their American counterparts by producing the Airvan 8 and have taken steps to protect their business, so there's a fair chance if the Airvan 10 starts to take hold over there that they'll react with matching ire. That won't worry GippsAero; that sort of reaction is an indicator you're doing something right.
On a more friendly USA note, AOPA USA has entered the battle for medical reform in Australia by co-signing a letter to CASA with AOPA Australia laying out all the benefits the BasicMed system has brought to USA pilots. This is a great initative, and I was very pleased to read the letter, but not for the reasons you may think. The impact of the letter itself on CASA is unlikely to be shattering; I doubt there is anything in it that CASA doesn't already know. They will have been watching BasicMed closely and no doubt talking to the FAA about the reasoning behind the initiative, and AOPA USA, whilst powerful in the US, is not quite as influential in Australia. No, for me the real news in this letter is that it indicates a thawing in the often frosty relationship between AOPA and AOPA Australia that has a genesis dated over 15 years ago. Disputes over the use of the name and logo put distance between the two, but this letter shows an vast improvement in co-operation, which comes after a lot of hard work done behind the scenes by benefactors on both sides of the Pacific.
Congratulations to all the winners of the 2017 Wings Awards. It was another competitive field this year that gave the judges a few sleepless nights, knowing that there could be only one winner in each category. Those chosen surely are deserving people and groups that have worked hard for recognition. However, just because a nomination was not successful doesn't mean the candidate was not also deserving; it just highlights how difficult the judge's jobs are. So well done to the winners and the nominators. Personally, I hope the judging panel has the same tough job again next year; it shows how important the Wings Awards have become to general aviation.
By now you will have seen the September-October print issue of Australian Flying. If you haven't you know where to find it: at the nearest decent newsagent.We've got some really good stuff in there including an LSA flight test, the latest in aviation theory delivery, a feature on jump pilot training and the inside story on CASA's Stakeholder Engagement Group. I commissioned the latter feature because CASA seems at last to be walking the talk. Under previous administrations, phrases like "consultation" and "feedback" seemed to be nothing more than squares on a game of Buzzword Bingo, but now they seem to be far more concerned with what the industry thinks. The question that prompted the feature was "is what they're doing actually working?" The results are quite interesting. The issue cover shows a very pretty Ekolot Topaz in flight, which would not have been possible without pilots Stuart Hills and Murray Gerraty, who volunteered their time and skills to get the shot done. Thanks, guys.
May your gauges always be in the green,