Right now, several people in Canberra know who the new Director of Aviation Safety is. The CASA board has signed, sealed and delivered their recommendation to Minister for Transport Darren Chester. It is unthinkable that Chester will over-ride the final candidate, so what ever name is on that report is the person will probably get the gig. Is that name Shane Carmody? If we take the approach "what has he done to lose the job?" we don't come up with a lot of show-stoppers. If the board has really given priority to getting the ASRR recommendations embedded, and that mean bulldozing the pushback, then their selection needs to be someone who will get that done with the greatest efficiency and the least resistance. That's going to require not only a bull-headed stubbornness to stick to the program, but also a deft ability to make people within CASA believe that this is good for them too. Does Shane Carmody have that within him? Ask Senator Sterle. Carmody frustrated him to tears in senate estimates on Tuesday after stubbornly refusing to answer hypothetical questions about drone incidents.
A meeting a couple of week ago between Shane Carmody and ASRR author David Forsyth seems to have ended amicably despite some opposing positions over whether or not ASRR recommendations have been completed. It's good to see these two critical people are workiing together try to get this over the line; we, the aviation community, have been waiting long enough. Also pleasing to see is Forsyth's comments that he intends to ask the industry how they think CASA is going. This will be the ultimate measure of progress, because it will tell if changes have been purely administrative or if they are having a real impact on the industry. Reforms that ultimately have no impact are probably a waste of time.
It seems to me that general aviation has been stuffed into a box marked "Inconvenient" when it comes to Badgerys Creek. The new forum held its first meeting today, and of 23 members, only two are likely to have the best interests of general aviation at heart: Sydney Metro Airports and the Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA). Glaringly absent is AOPA, who are fuming in a corner after being told initially they'd get a seat. To the RAAA falls the herculean task of trying to get the word across that Badgerys Creek will severely stuff training operations from Bankstown. The priority for all of the other stakeholders is their own interests, and the fact that Bankstown will lose its training area with no viable options currently obvious won't derail their trains of thought. I can imagine some of the forum members with be hearing the term "training area" for the first time, even though the location of the new airport has been on the cards since the late 1980s. I do wonder if the RAAA's Mike Higgins really understands the magnitude of the weight that has been dropped on his shoulders.
Aviatex at Wings over Illawarra gave me an excellent opportunity to gauge opinions about how general aviation air shows and exhibitions need to be run, especially when it comes to Ausfly/OzKosh/AirVenture Australia at Narromine. The general vibe is that its a great idea executed in the wrong spot. Almost unanimously, exhibitors thought it needed to be closer to the major population areas of the east. When the concept of a national GA fly-in was first mooted, the driving force was the Sport Aircraft Association of Australia (SAAA), which is headquartered at Narromine, so it made sense that the event would be on their home patch. The big negative of Narromine is the limited accommodation and distance from just about anywhere but Dubbo. Consequently, Dubbo becomes the major catchment town to showcase GA to the general public; all the major cities are too remote to draw on. When asked where it should be, almost all exhibitors thought it had to be the Riverina district of NSW in a town large enough to cope with an influx of visitors with a regional airport that had significance for aviation. The computer kept spitting out the name Wagga Wagga. Of course only moving the event to see what happens can prove right from wrong. Is it time to take the risk?
How are you going with your Wings Awards nomination? With five weeks to go until submissions close (yes, 1 July is only five weeks away) you should be almost at the stage of starting to write it all up. Don't forget to address the criteria carefully. If you don't, the judges will find it hard to assess your nominee's suitability to win an award with the name Royal Aeronautical Society on it. There are many organisations and people out there that deserve recognition for what they do for general aviation, but they won't get considered unless they are nominated with a good submission. And don't forget, nominations for the Col Pay Award are perpetual, so put in a good one now and it will be considered again every year without you having to resubmit.
May your gauges always be in the green,