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

Steve Hitchen

CASA's call for information on future technology and innovation struck an oddly familiar chord with me, a chord that sounded very much like Flightplan 2030. That was a Skidmore-instigated initiative to predict what GA in Australia would look like in 2030 to make sure CASA wasn't caught short by technology it was unaware of. This new project has an intent that sound remarkably like that. I'm not sure how much engagement the industry will grant CASA with this on two grounds. Firstly, submissions to be of any value must contain commercially-sensitive material; and secondly, CASA has a history of ignoring innovation not invented there. So the GA industry is being asked (again) to trust CASA at a time when the relationship with the regulator is still poor, whilst simultaneously believing that the information will be of value. Take the case of VFR ADS-B. Systems were developed and presented to CASA nearly 10 years before the VFR ADS-B project came to fruition. Attempts to get the regulator to understand were futile, so frustrated developers gave up and folded their companies. Now that CASA has written the spec for the system, there are so very few products that conform. CASA was told; CASA ignored. They should have been prepared. Is this new project just going to result in a parallel outcome? I hope not; I hope this is a result of the regulator understanding their previous sins and trying to rectify them for the future. We're likely going to have to wait until 2030 to find out, and even then it will rely on the willingness of companies to disclose sensitive materials to a regulator they don't trust.

Senator Rex Patrick sounds locked and loaded and ready to open a decent barrage in his Mayday address. Patrick is one of the senators that has reached the end of their tethers with CASA and the general state of the GA industry, and he is making noises like he is about to deploy some type of secret weapon in our favour. His language refers to "a powerful sledgehammer", like what he has in his back pocket is something more than just the go-to weapon of most politicians: a tirade. Inquiries have failed, pleading has failed, consultation has failed, private members bills have failed. What is there left to try? The recent interim report from the senate inquiry–of which Patrick is a member–revealed the thinking of the committee and telegraphed the likely recommendations of the final report. If there was an undeployed cannon somewhere in the arsenal, it would be fair to think it would be heralded in the interim report. Sledgehammers are used to force things, and in the governmental-bureaucratic arrangement surrounding aviation, the ability of the senate to force change is extremely limited because all power is enshrined in the Director of Aviation Safety and the minister. One the other side of the balance sheet, Patrick has proven in estimates that he prepares well for what he's doing and it would be foolhardy to believe that he's likely go off half-cocked, which makes his Mayday address even more intriguing. Is the irresistable force about to meet the immoveable object? It will be worth being at AOPA Australia's headquarters on 1 May to find out.

It was 10 years ago almost to the week that I sat at my computer the newly-appointed editor of Australian Flying and thought "what have I done?" The task of steering the best GA title in Australia seemed overwhelming at the time, but equally I was also excited by the challenge. A few days ago I looked back on the years that have passed since 2012 and wondered where all the material I have gathered since then came from. Where did I get 60 images for magazine covers? How did I commission or write over 400 feature articles and get the inspiration to write more than 350 editions of The Last Minute Hitch? The answer is not that hard to find: it all came from the GA community; from my freelancers, my mentors, my flying colleagues. Without them and the hard-working people at Yaffa Media and the advertisers that we take along on the ride every issue, Australian Flying would be nearly impossible to produce. The other person who is the great unsung hero of Australian Flying is my partner Sonya the Magnificent, who puts up with all the complaining and stress that comes with me trying to make every next issue better than the last one. Thanks everyone for getting me through the last 10 years.

May your gauges always be in the green,



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