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

Steve Hitchen

G'day from isolation.

This week I ventured into the declared orange zone based on Victoria's COVID traffic light system, making my way to Canberra to meet up with RAAus CEO Matt Bouttell and new CASA Director of Aviation Safety Pip Spence. Hence I am at home isolating until this morning's COVID test is declared negative. With the weather shaping up the way it is for the weekend, it's not like I was planning to go flying anyway.

RAAus seems to be in pretty darn good hands with Matt Bouttell at the tiller. He has both the passion for aviation and the experience to understand where the organisation is now and where it needs to be in the future. Matt has been around large aviation organisations for most of his career. His CV includes Qantas, Airservices, Qantas, CASA and Qantas. There's some pretty tough work environments right there; work environments that will have provided excellent temper for Matt to make a good fist of guiding RAAus.

Pip Spence is also well qualified to sit in the corner office at Aviation House. She's been around Canberra for long enough to understand exactly how it works and where all the back alleys lead to. But in Pip, CASA's people are in for something completely different: no person quite like Pip Spence has ever been handed the DAS role. Other than being the first female to hold down the job, Pip is also a much cruisier character on the surface than her predecessors. Not for her the stuffed-shirt approach to management, nor the greater-than-thou attitude overtly expressed by some who came before. She's open to people and open to ideas. Keep in mind, however, that people don't rise to positions of power in Canberra without being prepared to break a few eggs, and Pip Spence has dipped her toes into some of the toughest gigs a bureaucrat can be take on: NBN, Western Sydney Airport, Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. That's pretty good preparation for the rigours of righting the CASA ship, and proof she has the mettle to do the things that are hard. I suspect behind the soft speak is definitely a big stick.

After me pondering the chances of Avalon going ahead in December last week, the air show program in Australian took two more slugs this week with the Brisbane Airshow being postponed to October and Ausfly canceled completely. I feel for the organisers more than anything. If you've need put your sweat into a major aviation event, it's a lot of hard work, hard decisions, pulling strings, filling forms and satisfying people. Too much to then have it all come to nothing. With the uncertainty surrounding public events in Australia, it's hard to ask people to commit themselves to a project that may not have a future. Although we're furrowing our brows at not being allowed to attend air shows, spend some time to think of the souls behind the scenes whose hours of effort have amounted to nothing.

Nominations for the 2021 CASA Wings Awards are now officially open! The online system is now functioning and ready for you to start your submissions. You have until 5 November to get them done, but our experience is that good nominations usually take a bit of time to formulate and submit, so starting work on 1 November is not really recommended. This year, we've set up the system so that all the questions must be answered. In 2020 we got some half-submissions that didn't really do justice to the quality of the nominee, so to give yourself the best chance of impressing the judging panel, make sure to read and address the criteria fully.

May your gauges always be in the green,


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