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

Steve Hitchen

Robert Burns said something like "the best laid plans of mice and men will often go astray" (or something to that effect). Last Friday this mouse's plans went very much astray resulting in me not being able to complete the newsletter. So here's the one I owe you!

The Federal Government is forging ahead with their plan to attract more women to aviation, with the aim of correcting a massive gender imbalance and addressing skills shortages. This is an $8 million program the was actually an initiative of the Coalition, so it's good to see that the ALP has continued with the program rather than consign it to the "invented by the other side" bin. It's a shame they couldn't have seen that in the Aviation Framework rather that subjecting an inquiry-weary industry to another white paper. The strategic plan talks about a need for culture change within the industry, which is always one of the hardest things to bring about. Culture change must come from the very top if the system, in this case the owners, managers; HOOs and CFIs. They are the ones that have to display the leadership to create professional environments that women can be comfortable in. If you don't get the buy-in from them, culture change will fail. So, in a weird contradictory sort of way, the strategic plan also needs to be directed at men.

Can they actually do this? Can Otto Aviation get such a revolutionary design as the Celera 800 to market? Bullet-shaped and sleek, the aeroplane leverages laminar flow to get efficiencies at high speed. This is not new as such; the P-51 Mustang and SR22 use laminar flow wings and several of today's LSAs do the same. But Otto Aviation is saying they have cracked the code of transonic super-laminar (TSL) often branded the Holy Grail of aircraft design. The efficiency, speed and cost reduction this promises will take aviation into a new world. That's great theory, but only getting to market will prove the concept; technological break-throughs are useful only once you use them. But something makes me think this company can do it. Firstly, they have been focused on development only for some time, not even revealing the existence of the test vehicle Celera 500 until it had completed 31 test flights. Most aviation companies are preparing press releases the moment the first artist's impression is finished. Otto Aviation doesn't say anything until they have something to say, and they've said something pretty big this time around.

And on the subject of saying things, what is it that Cirrus has actually said about the SR10? The most prominent thing they have impressed on the industry is that is was developed under contract to their Chinese shareholder, and even though it has an FAA type certificate, it won't be offered to the US market. The TC was simply to help the Chinese get the aircraft certified as the AG100. And the story ends there. What was never said was that the AG100/SR10 would not be offered to markets other than China. I'm speculating here, but it is possible that we could one day soon see the AG100 coming to Australia, most likely branded as the SR10. The Chinese have given us GWM and LDV as they forced their way into the automotive market, and with an airframe boasting Cirrus/Rotax pedigree, it might be a very competitive machine when placed alongside the current trainers available in Australia. It's all just food for thought, but worth thinking about.

May your gauges always be in the green,


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