My first thought when I heard about CASA's new Aviation Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) was that the industry needs a new committee like it needs more SIDs. However, if you ferret through the undergrowth you will find a couple of encouraging truffles amongst the mushrooms. First of all, this seems to be not so much a new panel as a consolidation of all the other consultative panels CASA has working for them. That has to be a good thing; fewer committees generally means fewer camels. Secondly (and this is a bit hidden in officialese), CASA has stated that issues will go to ASAP first before any work starts on solutions. If ASAP actually functions this way, it's a huge step forward for sensible regulation. It's part of human nature to identify a problem and one potential solution at the same time. CASA's problem historically has been that the solution was often unworkable, but Not Invented Here Syndrome has seen them ignore learned advice and cling doggedly to their ideas like Gollum to a gold ring. Ultimately, this panel is advisory and any action is purely at the discretion of the Director of Aviation Safety. He can choose to ignore advice and stick with the convenient solution, which, if done with regularity, will result in ASAP becoming the white elephant in the room.
And so we could be looking at a few things happening come the start of July. Not only does ASAP kick in, but also the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) is due to complete its study into general aviation. The outcome of this study has the potential to set the benchmark for Australian governments' attitudes toward general aviation for years to come. Have a look now at how the Labour Party still falls back on its Aviation White Paper. So, what will the report say? If the industry is right, it will say that jobs are at risk for a number of factors, and the government needs to do something to protect it. However, if BITRE's numbers don't add up to that conclusion, we can expect it to be used against us every time we call for government action. Mind you, if the track record of most reports and inquiries into aviation is to be continued, we can probably expect an announcement of an extension soon.
Also, nominations for the general aviation Wings Awards close on 1 July. That means you should just about be done with your submission by now and just polishing it around the edges a bit. During the week I was asked how a nominator could submit supporting documents. If you want to do this, e-mail them to me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will pass them on to the entire judging panel along with your web-based submission. So get cracking; time is of the essence.
And now we have some great news for a couple of Australian Flying readers! We recently ran subscription and Facebook competitions to win some really good gear, and these two have done just that! Rachel Hawke has scored a Lightspeed Gann flight bag valued at $399 for doing nothing more than signing up for our weekly newsletter. Congratulations, Rachel ... this is a classy piece of kit. And Alexander Courtney has won a Bose A20 top-of-the-range noise-canceling headset worth $1400 for subscribing to the print version of Australian Flying ... and he got a great deal on Australia's premier GA magazine as well! Thanks to everyone who participated in these competitions, and stand by for news on your next chance to win big through Australian Flying.
May your gauges always be in the green,