– Steve Hitchen

Lawyers, guns, money. Misusing any of these three things generally brings heartache and pain and rarely advances the cause for which they were originally employed. Take, for example, the Australian General Aviation Alliance's (AGAA) plan to involve a quarrel of solicitors operating pro bono at their summit in July. The intent, according to inside sources, is to use legal arguments to support their case and counter anything CASA can put up against them in their quest to remove the primacy of safety from the Civil Aviation Act 1988. I believe this is a plan to fail. Firstly, this summit needs to be about the general aviation industry, what it wants and what it needs. The GA community needs to be able to converse with each other, bounce ideas off each other and come up with a good plan that can be presented to the minister after only two days. Involve the lawyers and at the end of it all you'll be right back where you started. The lawyers will pick apart any and every argument you can put up for new wording to the Act and find fault with just about everything you write. The summit will effectively be strangled by legal opinion and the opinions that count the most will be lost. Secondly, I have it on pretty good authority that CASA won't put up any arguments to be countered. Why would they? CASA has two instruments that it must abide by: the Civil Aviation Act 1988 and the minister's Statement of Expectations. It's not their place to put up counter-arguments and I don't think they'll do it. The Act is, literally, an Act of Parliament, and so is owned by parliamentarians. They might put up counter arguments, but most of those arguments will be based in politics, not law. Get the industry consensus on paper, present it to the minister, then let the department deal with the legalities to make it work. Let the aviation community breathe and achieve at the summit; you won't be able to do that if you misuse lawyers in an attempt to make your solution foolproof.

On that note: David Forsyth has come out in support of making changes to the Act. This is very surprising given that his ASRR in 2014 didn't recommend this despite many submissions that supported it. However, his explanation behind the changes of heart is pretty solid: attempts to bring about economic release through other means have failed, so now the big bat has to be used. This is a huge feather in the cap of the change proponents, as Forsyth is one of the most respected people in the aviation community, and his opinion travels miles around Canberra.

All good things must come to an end, and it's time for Australian Flying to say goodbye to one of it's most recognisable names and faces: Shelley Ross. Shelley has been writing for the magazine for 19 years, and with an instructor's rating under her belt, will now take her career down a path that won't allow enough time or scope to keep writing her Destinations features. Shelley has been a brilliant spokesperson for Australian Flying since she had her first words published as a member of the very first Reader Advisory Board (remember that?) in the late 1990s. She brought a very fresh and vibrant feel to the magazine that is still there today. Her travels around the country have given her a trove of experiences both professional and social that she still shares through her webstite Personally, I can't thank Shelley enough for encouraging me to keep writing in the early 2000s. She did this through both acceptance and rejection; always constructive and always nurturing. There is no doubt, that it's because of Shelley Ross that I am editor of this magazine and website today.

And now it's time to welcome Kreisha Ballantyne to the fold! An experienced pilot and journalist with an infectious effervescence, Kreisha joins us as Senior Contributor, ending a long search to replace Philip Smart, who moved on earlier this year. Kreisha already has a very readable body of work in her portfolio, and I suspect her influence on Australian Flying will be quite profound. I look forward to working with her, and ask everyone of you out there to say g'day to her when you catch her around the airports of Australia.

May your gauges always be in the green,




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