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

– Steve Hitchen

Apparently there is opinion being expressed in the GA community that Australian Flying is just an apologist for CASA. If I am right about the headwaters of this, it springs from deep frustration with CASA and a feeling that anyone who supports anything CASA does is not on GA's side. That's a position that Australian Flying just can't adopt. We have to be balanced and fair with everything we do, and that means saying what we like about CASA as well as what we don't like. Sometimes that gets me a phone call. That's OK; the conversations are always respectful because both sides understand the position of the other. Rarely have I changed anything, and if I did it's because something I said was proven to be wrong. Right now, I don't have much bad stuff to say about CASA because they haven't done much worth commenting on. In the background they are dealing with the Part 67 Medicals reform, Part 103 Recreational and Sport Aviation, RAAus access to CTA and the new 760-kg Group G. All of this requires policy change, which traditionally is the slowest type of action within CASA because of inertia and the reticence of legal advice. When all of this drops down, I'm sure I'll have plenty to saygood and bad–which is likely to earn me some more phone calls.

This week Minister Catherine King asked Archerfield Airport to redo their master plan on the grounds that it didn't establish a strategic direction. What's going on? Not long ago, Minister King also threw Moorabbin's master plan back as well. Does this mean we are entering a much yearned-for era when the government is going to hold the leased-airport operators to account? Various ministers going back to the early days of the Howard Liberal government tended to view master plan approvals as a rubber-stamping exercise, which resulted in much loss of infrastructure and aviation space on airport grounds. Credit needs to go to Barnaby Joyce who first rejected the Moorabbin plan, which I suspect has opened the eyes of the department to their responsibility to make sure the airports are protected. But how far is the department prepared to go? There is a lot of non-aviation investment in these airports and as airports they are not cash cows; meaning the operators will always want to place investment where the returns are strongest and fastest. It's only a matter of time before one of these plans envisages huge investment at the expense if a viable airport. Only when an impasse is reached will we see the true limit of departmental strength.

Pacific Airshow Gold Coast looks to have found a winning formula: an airshow held on a beach where the patrons can swim and walk the sand whilst admiring thing in the air. All the videos and photos so far show a very happy gathering blessed by perfect weather. I am feeling confident in saying it will be back again next year. But like all air shows, there are some grumpy comments coming from behind the scenes about a seeming lack of organisation and communication in some areas, and a definite lack of carparking and jammed feeder roads into and out of the Gold Coast. It will give Pacific Airshows a lot to work on for 2024, especially the things that are a given in the USA that don't necessarily work over here. And naturally, the general public were looking forward to a lot more fast jets given the publicity in the build-up. Despite all this, the show has won some fans who doubtless are already planning their attendance next year.,

Father's Day is bearing down upon us again, and for those that need a gift for Dad, Australian Flying has your back. This Father's Day we're offering a 12-month print and digital subscription for only $45.00. That equates to a 25% saving. Even if you need to renew your subscription and it's not strictly for a Fathers' Day, go ahead and take advantage; I won't tell anyone. Check it out here on the Great Magazines website.

May your gauges always be in the green,


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