– Steve Hitchen
CASA's new FlySafe forums have been announced at a time when the regulator is struggling to make a connection with the aviation community. The last satisfaction survey showed that although CASA seems to be treading water in the popularity triathlon, the number of returns was down a long way, hinting at a general disengagement. Forums as a rule are usually well attended despite the rampant apathy in the industry; if nothing else they represent the devil putting himself up to be shouted at. However, forums such as this and the Flightplan 2030 series have a reputation of being talkfests that have little impact on the future health of general aviation. That's a very uninspiring prospect and more a reason for staying away than it is for going along. Regardless, I am confident the aviation community will once again front up in numbers and won't be backward when it comes to laying opinion at the feet of CASA. That is always the best response from the aviation community: put our passion on display everytime we are asked to show it, and don't hold back. The devil is not going to shout at himself.
Intrigue is stalking the corridors of Aviation House as everyone eyes the empty corner office with some unease. It has been nearly 10 months since CASA knew they were going to need a new Director of Aviation Safety (DAS), but still there is no name on the door. It took 10 months from the time he took over as Acting DAS for Shane Carmody to be confirmed in the role, but in that case there was really no other person in the race; Carmody was always the front runner. Things are different this time around. The Acting DAS Graeme Crawford has not been installed as the bookies' favourite the way Carmody was. And that's where the intrigue comes in. If not he, then who? Is there another internal candidate ready to leapfrog Crawford and get the best seat in the building, or does the CASA board have their eye on someone from outside the organisation? We've debated endlessly on whether CASA needs a DAS with aviation experience or bureaucratic strength, and experiments with both have resulted–from a GA point of view–to be inconclusive. That leaves the door completely open for both internal and external candidates to slog it out. Not until the appointment is made will we know what the CASA board is thinking, and indeed what they want CASA to be in the future.
Smoke on 2022! It looks like the World Championship Air Race is gaining momentum for a start next year. With Matt Hall signing on, Australia is going to have something to cheer about. Since Red Bull wound up their series at the end of the 2019 season, racing fans have be denied the excitement and thrill of watching the best pilots in the game dueling against the clock. They've missed the science of the vertical turn manoeuvre, the angst of an over-G, the perfection of leveling the wings a micro-second before roaring through a gate. These were the highs and lows that made RBAR worth watching, and they all look like translating to the new WCAR series next year. As yet we don't have the teams line-up; some old favourites might have elected to hang up their helmets during the hiatus, but there'll be plenty of others to step in to take their place. Hall, once the tyro, will enter the 2022 season as a veteran, and a target for those that have yet to take their shot at a title. He'll still be competitive–it's in his nature–but it will be fascinating to watch which new champions of the track emerge when the smoke comes on again.
May your gauges always be in the green,