– Steve Hitchen
CASA yesterday announced its second iteration of ASAP. This is an advisory panel that utilises industry people to tear apart proposed regulation and give CASA input on the way forward. CASA has added both Ray Cronin and Adrianne Fleming to the panel, a move which has to be loudly applauded. Both Cronin and Fleming have contributed significantly to most aspects of general aviation in this country and bring to the panel the passion and experience that GA needs from its representatives. CASA has copped slings and arrows in the past about a lack of GA representation, especially from AOPA. The inference has been that ASAP member TAAAF was not properly representing the views of GA. Whether or not that's true is now a dead matter as TAAAF is off the panel for the time being. However, it will be very hard to justify statements about a lack of genuine representation now that two of Australia's most prominent and passionate GA exponents have been taken on board.
The general aviation community has been shaken in the past couple of weeks over action taken by the local council to effectively shut down Tyabb Airport. It even made A Current Affair. The good news today is that after a meeting between the respective principals, the council has indicated it won't enforce the letters that ordered companies on the airport to cease operations for the time being. It seems that both Peninsula Aero Club and Mornington Peninsula Shire Council have found a more harmonious way forward. The ball is now with the shire, which has been tasked with providing some information the aero club wants, with another meeting scheduled for a couple of weeks. PAC is standing its ground and insisting it has all the permits and the rights to keep operating, but some of the antagonism has receded. So, some good signs, but the fight is not over yet.
Airservices cutting charges is good news for our industry. Yes, 2% is only a flea on a black dog when it comes to how much aviation costs, but right now, with most costs and charges going in the other direction, we need to take whatever comes our way. Airservices CEO Jason Harfield has credited the cost cuts to saving realised under the Accelerate scheme, which sought to streamline the organisation. Hundreds of jobs were lost under Accelerate, but Airservices has stated that none of them were "front-line" positions. With OneSKY looming large, there were fears that the cuts to personnel had been too deep, but except for a couple of hiccups along the way, there hasn't been a lot of evidence of that. Most of the worries are still about front-line personnel levels, especially when it comes to reviews of staffing requirements at various airports and the emerging remote-tower technology. All of this should mean more cost rollbacks in the future, unless all the savings are re-absorbed by OneSKY.
Matt Hall isn't done for yet! His 2019 Red Bull Air Race campaign is his final crack at the world title that has eluded him for far too long, and his second place in Russia last weekend brought him closer to realising his dream. The only setback for Hall is that Japan's Yoshi Muroya has won both races this year, racking up maximum points. Had someone else won, the points gap between the series leader and Hall's third place would have been less. But I'm backing the Aussie. He's finished championship runner-up more times than any other pilot who has never won the title and since the series was revived in 2014 he has won more points than any other pilot in the competition. If I had to choose one pilot to race for my life, it would be Matt Hall's never-say-die attitude that we see me right. Tense times, but I bet he's relishing the fight.
May your gauges always be in the green,