– Steve Hitchen
What's in a good slogan? Absolutely everything if you ask Coca-Cola, Nike or American Express. A good slogan is snappy, easy to remember and conveys a message that you want the customers to know. It's something they can relate to; something they want, and they associate that want with your company. Yes, a good slogan is everything. That's what's got AOPA most outraged over RAAus claiming "Freedom to Fly" via a trade mark registration. AOPA has been using it for several years and it's been effective in creating that association with what general aviation wants. Having RAAus take control of it is being seen as hijacking, not only by AOPA, but also by several RAAus members who believe this has damaged the organisation's reputation. Although RAAus has said they claimed it so any non-profit could use it, that defence is seen as being weak and fooling no-one. And it has inflicted serious injury on RAAus' standing, because people in both GA and recreational flying believe it masks something sinister: confirmation of a long-denied war between AOPA and RAAus. There has been lots of input to this debate; most of it supporting AOPA and very little for RAAus other than from within RAAus itself. Regardless of the genuine reasons for registering the trade mark, this can only be a mis-fire by RAAus. They must have known that registering AOPA's slogan as a trade mark would cause an out-pouring of rage the level of which we have seen this week. AOPA was unlikely to take this on the chin and go and write themselves another slogan; they were always likely to go to the mattresses over it. RAAus now finds themselves in the corner of the room surrounded by wet paint. The call for a general meeting to discuss the issue went out this week, and it included resolutions not only to surrender the trade mark, but also to have those responsible for it removed from office. That's a very visceral response, and RAAus won't want to fight a war within their own ranks; a war which everyone will lose. Ask Malcolm Turnbull about that.
EASA looks to be taking a very interesting stance on flight training: Declared Training Organisations. A DTO is a school that doesn't do training above PPL level and has a completely different set of rules that are much simpler and cheaper to comply with. Most outstanding is that they are not approved by EASA, but certify themselves as complying much in the way that an LSA manufacturer certifies their own aircraft. The thinking here is that PPLs operate in lower-risk environments and therefore need lower-intensity oversight. But although it doesn't say it, EASA's attitude is probably directed more at LSA operations than GA PPL. There is no self-administering organisation for recreational aircraft in Europe, so I believe this regulation is written predominantly for those operations, but has been extended to capture GA PPLs also. The first question is whether this sort of thing would benefit Australia. Whereas flight training organisations won't want to surrender the ability to train CPLs, aero clubs might do, and so could save a lot of money and heartache by moving to a DTO. In some cases it could even ensure their ongoing existence. DTOs could be a way of saving GA because it would logically foster new entries into the flying school market in areas that have long been abandoned due to school and club closures. The second question is CASA's attitude towards this concept, and although I suspect they will scream and run when they read the EASA reg, we can only hope that they watch the idea as it evolves in Europe over the coming years.
A strange thing happened to me this week: after 33 years of flying I have finished my first logbook. That's strange because most pilots I know who have been around that long are onto their second or even third. I attribute the longevity of my battered green book (yes, they weren't always blue) to Scrooge-like entries, an anemic bank account and a four-year break away from flying. Stepping back through Logbook #1, I began to realise what a portal to the past flight crew logbooks really are. When I flew my first hour, Moorabbin had a runway 35/17 centre, you could buy a new Cessna 152, VFR cross-country flights were generally full-reporting, we had a Department of Civil Aviation and there was no such thing as a recreational aeroplane, VNCs or ERSA. Aviation has changed so much since I scrawled "Effect of controls - medium banks 0.6" on 25 May 1985. Some of those changes have improved aviation; some of them have been detrimental. The rise of iPad apps and glass cockpit have been improvements; the ongoing loss of airports and flying schools (including the ones I logged my first hour at) has been detrimental. My hope for my next logbook is that when I finish it, I wander back through the pages and conclude that aviation was in a better state than it was when I started the book way back in 2018. If that dream is ever to come true, changes need to happen right now to make sure that there is still a general aviation industry 33 years from now. Here's hoping.
May your gauges always be in the green,