– Steve Hitchen
In the spirit of "when what you're doing is not working, you have to change what you're doing", CASA has announced–somewhat cryptically–that they are changing starting 1 July. Other than a new centralised inquiries system, the announcement was short on detail, so there's not a lot to say at the moment. Except this. According to CASA, the changes are to try to add consistency to the way they deal with the aviation community, which has been a chronic problem since CASA was formed over 25 years ago. Too many people have suffered, and continue to suffer, from that inconsistency. People have been sent broke; people have been driven from the aviation community. Worst of all, CASA didn't seem to think there was a problem with issuing conflicting information, one of the greatest degraders of safety in aviation. But how far is this new-found consistency going to extend? Are the people on the end of the phones or typing the e-mails going to have the final say? That's a utopia that the aviation community needs, but CASA has proven themselves unable to deliver. We need information and rulings that, once delivered, cannot be rescinded even if contrary opinion is later expressed. Livelihoods and millions of dollars ride on what CASA says, so the aviation community needs CASA to deliver a single, correct ruling the first time, every time. That sounds a bit like Strict Liability, doesn't it?
Cessna says its C408 SkyCourier development is on pace for the first customer deliveries later this year. The entry of the C408 in the short-haul pax and cargo market spells a serious challenge to other manufacturers. It's always exciting to see a new clean-sheet design enter the market, and we've seen quite a rash of them over the past 10 years: Tecnam P2012, HondaJet, Cirrus SF50, Pilatus PC-24. There's still the GE-powered Cessna Denali to come as well. We do have to wonder now if the ambitious F-45 Fire Catcher will ever be more than an artist's impression, with major partner Pacific Aerospace having administrators appointed last month. Most disappointingly is the still-birth of the GippsAero GA10, which was certified but never produced, and with owners Mahindra stopping production, it's likely it never will be. But you get the feeling that in the SkyCourier we're looking at the beginning of a dynasty that will see one aircraft completely dominate a sector, much in the way that the Pilatus PC-12 has done since its inception 30 years ago. Do-anything aircraft that do anything very well tend to be survivors, and if that's the case, the C408 will be around in numbers for a long time.
RotorTech looks like it's finally going ahead. After the 2020 event was torpedoed twice, AMDA Foundation has just stormed ahead with an event in 2021 and trusted to faith that COVID would abate enough to permit a large gathering of this type. As of yesterday, 500 people had registered to attend the show, and you can be a lot more will come on board between now and kick-off on 15 June. The industry needs it badly. Not only have they been kept apart for too long, but RotorTech is also being seen as and event to catalyse economic recovery, especially for the greviously-wounded tourism sector. With the industry throwing its support behind the conference and the expo, there is clear momentum and enthusiasm for the event, so if it doesn't meet with success, you can guarantee it will be because of forces outside the organisers' control.
There's now only six days to go until Easter kicks off. If that's not a reminder to get yourself a great bargain on a 12-month subscription to Australian Flying then I don't know what is! You stand to get 30% off the normal price, but this offer is not going to last forever. Not past Easter, in fact. Get onto the Great Magazines website and quench your FOMO before it's too late.
May your gauges always be in the green,