– Steve Hitchen
Over the past 20 or so years, the flight training industry has been through so much transformation that new students almost need a separate briefing on how it all works ... or doesn't work. The watershed moment was the time the government started offering student loans for CPL/ATPL training and degree courses emerged at universities. That brought a flood of new CPL candidates to the industry, but with it came a corresponding number of drop-outs. Then Parts 61, 141 and 142 were implemented in an attempt to corral everything. The collateral damage of all this change was PPL training; it has been largely forgotten as schools scrambled for the student-loan market. EASA last year identified that complex safety systems weren't need for PPL training; indeed we trained pilots very well and very safely before such systems were sold to us as being paramount for risk management. In doing so, EASA introduced the concept of the Declared Training Organisation (DTO). DTOs can't train CPLs nor multi-engine pilots, but they can do bog-stock ab-initio training with a level of complexity more appropriate to the PPL standards. CASA hasn't ruled out DTOs for Australia, but won't even consider it unless there is a weight of support from the GA industry. This week also comes the news that a new association has risen: the Australian Flight Training Industry Association (AFTIA). AFTIA aims to better represent flight training organisations and develop new policies for regulator and government consideration. I suspect one of their early tasks will be to look at DTOs and the potential for PPL training in Australia. AFTIA is likely to carry a lot of weight with CASA and the department, so their deliberations will probably decide the future of DTOs in Australia.
AOPA Australia has been particularly dormant on the subject of medicals over the past few months, but resurrected the issue this week in an opinion article that basically says "it's about time". The timing of this article is critical. CASA, which has stubbornly resisted self-certification for PPLs, has a new CEO who is still finding her feet and hasn't yet been infused with the reform inertia that comes from listening too much to rusted-on middle managers, anti-reformists and proponents of the not-invented-here paradigm. CASA did flinch under pressure a couple of years ago and conceded the Basic Class 2, but that didn't satisfy AOPA or the SAAA, both of which are sticking to the "level playing field" analogy that is defining the difference between their membership bases and that of Recreational Aviation Australia. However, Pip Spence is not selling herself as a new broom; there's no guarantee that she is going to listen to the arguments with any more sympathy than previous Directors of Aviation Safety. It could be that restating the problem to a different person is simply not enough; perhaps it's time to look at how the argument is articulated and develop a new approach. Thumping a shoe on the desk gets a lot of attention, but in the end rarely achieves anything more than the destruction of the shoe. When what you're doing doesn't work, you need to change what you're doing, and it could be time for the GA community to develop a new strategy or concede defeat.
Fathers' Day has a familiar ring to it: it's the second year running that part of the country will be celebrating in lockdown. Who would have thought we'd still be in this situation 12 months down the track? There's also something else the same: Australian Flying is reprising its Fathers' Day subscription offer! This will deliver you a 40% saving over the normal 12-month subscription price and gets you six issues of Australia's most widely-read purely general aviation magazine. Dad gets happy and you get a great bargain! Does it get any better than that? Go to the Great Magazines website and sign-up for Australian Flying. And whilst you're there, have a good look at what other titles like Fishing, Australian Photography, Great Walks, Sporting Shooter and Bicycling Australia have to offer as well.
May your gauges always be in the green,