– Steve Hitchen
You heard it here first: CASA is working on a new Class 5 medical status, which hints at PPLs being able to fly VH-registered aircraft on a self-declared medical. A technical working group has the matter in hand, and I expect we'll see something go out for public consultation sometime next year. We should applaud now, but hold the standing ovation until we see exactly what CASA releases. Both the UK and the USA have had self-certification for a number of years, and in neither case has it resulted in an increase in aeroplanes dropping out of the sky. However, this is not likely to be a simple wiping-out of the Class 2 medical; it will come with conditions. The USA's BasicMED, for example, limits self-certification to aircraft certified for no more than five passengers and aircraft below 2721 kg MTOW. Curiously, the pilot must also maintain a driver's licence. So we can expect that CASA will probably apply restrictions to Class 5; they will likely limit it by weight and could ban Class 5s from CTA. But all this is second-guessing before the first-guessing has been done. The TWG still needs to thrash through the issue and present CASA with a solution that is not only acceptable to the GA community, but also is practical and brings about the results we all want: lower costs and less red tape.
Ben Morgan has teed-off at CASA over what he sees as an apparent reluctance to engage on some reforms, accusing them of playing games over the self-certified medical, and the increase in MTOW expected to be handed to RAAus in early December. It's not so much the new 760-kg limits that is the problem, but a permissible increase is stall speed that didn't happen. When the amendments to CAO 95.55 come out–necessary because the TWG torpedoed CASR Part 135–it will demand a 45-knot maximum stall speed. RAAus has expressed disappointment; AOPA has gone troppo. But the reality is that an increase in the maximum stall speed is very likely to happen ... it just should have happened in conjunction with the MTOW increase. CASA's processes managed to split the issues when they are actually tied very tightly, resulting in blood letting because people in the community have rightly inferred that one was being implemented without the other. And that includes me. CASA has not backed away at any time from its position that an increase in the maximum stall speed is a major leap for RAAus, and not one CASA was going to allow without a lot of due diligence being done. Now that the MOS for Part 135 is back on the Etch-a-Sketch, it is hoped the TWGs will work out how to grant a higher stall speed and fold it into the new MOS.
The RRAT committee's inquiry into the general aviation industry has rescheduled its final report day to 17 March 2022. The initial date was supposed to be 30 November, but COVID hampered the inquiry to the point that two years' research produced about two weeks' work. The extension buys the senate committee another four months, but still the amount of activity done is nothing to write home about. In late October we wrote that the committee would be holding more public hearings in November, but the inquiry webpage shows that approximately nothing happened. So, is four more months enough for them to get this right? Figure at least one month to come up with some recommendations and compile the report and we're left with three months. For the report to have the integrity level that the GA community needs it to have, Senator Macdonald and her team are going to have to knuckle down ... as are we if we get called to the plate. Why is this so important? A few weeks ago I hinted that there seems to be a changing wind blowing from the House of Representatives towards Aviation House. Word has reached me that our regulator is starting to hear the windchimes and see the vanes turning. We could be on the verge of serious reforms, and an accurate, concise, well-structured senate report could be the catalyst that sets it all off. I am getting the idea that if the senate inquiry wasn't already underway then Barnaby Joyce would be demanding one by now.
This time next week I will be on the road somewhere between home and Wings over Illawarra. As a side-effect of that, you'll be getting your weekly e-News on Thursday instead. I am pretty excited about WOI because it holds more significance this year than any year before this. Not only is it the prime celebration of the RAAF's centenary, it also marks the emergence of the general aviation calendar from COVID hibernation. There are plenty of expectations of WOI, but the organisers, Bright Events, have a reputation of delivering plenty. Don't forget if you're camping up there this year to look out for the Bose seminar on the Saturday night and grab your chance to win a Bose A20 noise-canceling headset. I won't be there myself, but will be out and around the show on both the Saturday and the Sunday.
May your gauges always be in the green,