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

– Steve Hitchen

General aviation received some very disappointing news this week: the FAA will be making no MOSAIC announcement as was widely expected. MOSAIC is a program to revise the ruleset around special airworthiness categories including LSAs, and has been widely tipped to remove a lot of restrictive rules such as MTOWs and engine types. From what I have been able to gather, MOSAIC just got too big for the FAA to cope with, so they decided to divide the program and excise RPAS from it. That has meant a delay of anything up to 12 months whilst they sort it all out. The new rules, when they are finally established (work started in 2014), and hopefully adopted here, could mean new LSAs being built to slot straight into the RAAus Group G. That means an MTOW of up to 760 kg. Right now, there is no certification standard other than full CS/FAR 23 that will permit that take-off weight. For now, Group G looks like advantaging amateur builders, but exclude factory-built aircraft. We can but hope that in one year's time we have some better news.

Flight training used to be a very simple activity. You were a flying school that had the instructors, the aeroplanes and the approvals, and people paid you money to teach them to fly. Then came Part 61, Part 141/142, government loans, university courses, the Australian Skills Quality Authority, CRICOS, the various education departments and suddenly the system has become so complex, so unwieldy and confusing that it is probably now on the cusp of complete collapse. COVID has culled the stream of international students to the Part 142 schools and airlines have raided the training organisations like Border Reivers, carrying off the best of the Grade 1 instructors and starting on the Grade 2s. For all this organisation, cross-bureaucracy and regulation, the flow of good, qualified pilots to GA and the airlines is hardly commensurate with the weight of regulation. CFIs/HOOs are getting hard to find, which is threatening the existence of even the most financially-stable flying schools. If William of Ockham were here today, he would look at how flight training is done in Australia and scream "I told you so!" He theorised that "the simplest answer tends to be the correct one." It therefore follows that the most complex answer is the wrong one, and it's hard to imagine a more complex system than commercial flight training in Australia. With dwindling resources and increasing pressure, flying schools are starting to shutter their windows, and unless a whole-of-industry solution is found soon, everyone will feel the impact from ATPLs all the way down to RPCs.

During the week I had my eyes opened to something regarding our regulator. CASA has been beaten up so much for over-regulation that they may be reluctant to propose practical solutions for fear of further retribution; a case of 40-times bitten, 41-times shy. Instead, they are looking to the aviation community to determine the action needed and propose it back to them. It under-scored to me the importance of feedback to consultation and supporting voice for things that are just a damned good idea. Of course, this is a generalisation and there's no guarantee that good ideas will automatically be adopted nor does it mean that CASA won't come up with their own ideas in the future. To me, it is tacit admission that CASA doesn't have all the answers. I have been quite willing to throw rotten pears at CASA's Office of Airspace Regulation (OAR) for their report that recommended nothing concrete about the situation at Mangalore, but it was pointed out to me that the Airservices proposal was not workable and no other feasible solution was put up. I took that as a plea for the aviation community to get on board and make submissions to the OAR consultation process. The consultation is open until 11 August, so if you've got a good idea and you can articulate it professionally, now is the time to let CASA know about it.

May your gauges always be in the green,


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