• Australian Flying editor Steve Hitchen. (Kevin Hanrahan)
    Australian Flying editor Steve Hitchen. (Kevin Hanrahan)

Steve Hitchen

There is probably not one single CASA regulation or rule that someone somewhere doesn't think is necessary, even down to the need to have a pilot's licence. That's not a reflection on the rules, but says more about the variety of different opinions and convictions that exist in GA right across the world. Every now and then something happens that reminds us why some of the regulations were written. The Christmas Eve Jodel crash in Queensland is one of those. If the ATSB investigation was done with diligence (and there's no reason to suggest it wasn't), some of aviation's most fundamental airmanship practices weren't adhered to, leading to the ATSB to throw their hands up and decide there was no point going any further. The problem GA has is that the general public don't understand the depth of what the ATSB found, and that the problems outlined in the discontinuation notice are not generic to the entire GA industry nor a reflection on the safety levels of the vast majority of Australia's fleet. Furthermore, we won't get the chance to correct the record. Even in CASA decides to pursue the matter, it will still remain a stain on the GA community's reputation. We don't need that now or ever.

Given Dassault's obvious enthusiasm for the short-term bizjet market, it is perhaps surprising that Bombardier and Gulfstream declined to front up to the Singapore Airshow. Singapore is one of the largest air shows in the Asia-Pac region, and with Avalon 2021 canceled, it is taking on even greater importance. So that leaves us asking the obvious question: does Dassault know something the others don't? Alternatively, are they just seizing the day and riding the wave of emerging demand for as long as it runs? Either way, you have to admire their damn-the-torpedoes approach and backing in the GA and business aviation sectors to recover from their COVID malaise. Business woes are most often caused by a simple lack of confidence in the economy, and whilst that may be a valid concern, recovery will take place only when someone adopts the risks and gets on with the job. The business aviation community and GA in general are looking to the industry leaders to lead the recovery, and its the companies that do so that will earn the title the most. The word from Singapore is that the show is a bit flat, which hopefully won't extend to Avalon 2023 in a bit over a year's time.

Some time after 29 March (the tip is the day after) our Prime Minister will announce the date of the next election, unleashing Canberra's most voracious PR people in a vote-for-me onslaught. We can expect to be bombarded with glowing self-recommendations combined with slurs on the competency of the other team for a good six weeks at least. But I am not expecting a flood of announcements about general aviation. Firstly, there never is; secondly, the Coalition has already made their pitch to us in the form of the Aviation Recovery Framework. That leaves Labor to release their policy. A few weeks ago they threw us a morsel, but it didn't really suit our tastebuds as it carried hints of White Paper. What I am looking forward to is a policy paper from The Australian Aviation Associations Forum (TAAAF). This paper comes out upwind of every election and generally makes some very good sense. The impact will be very different this time given that the space they normally slot into has been stolen by the Coalition's Framework document to a large extent. With many of general aviation's desires covered by the Framework, I am salivating at the thought of the TAAAF paper being very innovative and left-thinking in nature.

In the last few moments the March-April print edition of Australian Flying has found its way to my desk. We've put together a collection of interesting material from a flight test of a new Archer TX to a helicopter experience in an R66 and the ins and outs of getting your Gas Turbine Endorsement. Jim Davis takes on a Junkers and I tackle some ill winds at Moruya. It's a good one; go and get it if it hasn't already found its way to you.

May your gauges always be in the green,


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