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

– Steve Hitchen

Sorry for shattering your world and bringing this out on a Thursday; I know how much we aviators prefer standard procedures. You can blame Wings over Illawarra for the disturbance in the space-time fabric, for tomorrow when LMH would customarily come out I will be on the road to Albion Park. WOI this year holds some special significance for the aviation community: it represents a breaking-out party for GA as well as serving as the major air show in the RAAF's centenary year. The last 18 months have seen COVID destroy the air show calendar completely as one-by-one the major air shows canceled. I have to admit to waiting patiently for the same notification from WOI, but all I ever got was more optimism and a determination to go ahead. And now it is only two days away, and the GA community is more than ready for this! At the first opportunity we've had, I expect aviators to come from the clouds (in some cases, literally) to immerse themselves what gives us a buzz the most: flying stuff. This opportunity is courtesy of the courage of Bright Events and their team. Let's justify their confidence.

In years to come, aviation experts and plane watchers will have to be on their games to acurately discern between Pilatus' PC-12 and the new Beechcraft Denali SETPs. The two aircraft are remarkably similar in design and pitched at the same market. Naturally, this has brought accusations of the Denali being a "me-too" aeroplane. The point of differentiation lies under the front cowl; Textron opted for the newly-developed GE Catalyst engine. In fact, they've hung the entire project on that motor, because if they'd gone with the same PT6 engine that pulls the PC-12 it would be only brand loyalty that would attract buyers to the Denali. Pilatus has, of course, been watching with interest, and this week fired somewhat of a shot over the bow of the Beechcraft by issuing a press briefing on the market, which contained the line "When you depend on one engine, depend on time-proven experts only". Methinks this was aimed at the GE Catalyst. This gloves-off slap reveals that perhaps Pilatus are a frag more concerned about the Denali's potential than just "watching with interest". And fair enough too: although in Australia it will be hard to break-up our love affair with the PC-12, the Americans are past-masters at loyalty to stars-and-stripes manufacturing and the USA is still the biggest market in the world for GA planes of any type. That alone makes the Denali a respectable challenger for the PC-12's crown.

At the time of writing this I am waiting confirmation that more public hearings of the senate GA inquiry are scheduled for December. At the moment, there are indications that a hearing will happen on 7 December and streamed online via the Australian Parliament House website. No other details are to hand right now, but I am expecting something more solid very soon. This is good news; as I wrote last week time is the enemy of the inquiry at the moment and we need the senators to get their skates on and take more evidence. Right now there isn't enough for the government to take notice of a report that they didn't commission. Having put that out there regularly, I am seeing signs that the current minister may be more receptive to a report that recommends immediate reform than some who have come before. As soon as we get more details on the hearings we'll get them to you.

May your gauges always be in the green,


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