– Steve Hitchen
I find it amusing that the Civil Aviation Act 1988 requires "clear and concise" regulation, yet the federal government's Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing (OLDP) basically exists to make sure that doesn't happen. Regulations are written in legalese in order for lawyers to be able to frame arguments in front of a magistrate, not as rules that can be easily understood by those they apply to. The Aviation Safety Regulation Review (ASRR) hammered the point home when they recommended a third tier of regulation to be written in plain English. CASA, to their credit, is taking up the challenge by producing a plain English version of Part 91. Good on them; I am an advocate. But there's a couple of problems. Firstly, who gets to judge if the plain English version is clear and carries forward the intent of the regulation? I suspect it will be the legal eagles, who are likely to completely destroy the document in a red-pen frenzy howling that the legislation is clear already. Secondly, CASA did not demand that the people who are writing the plain English Part 91 are actually qualified to write in plain English. So there are some challenges, and if CASA actually succeeds, I have some advice for them: throw out the legislative version and make the plain English version the law. In the meantime, we struggle on. I don't often refer my readers to PPruNe, but this time I will. Someone who has obviously been on the wrong side of legislative interpretation has opened a poll to see if the industry believes CASA has complied with the Act's "clear and concise" requirement. It's probably a Monty that most will vote "No", but it will be worth getting a reasonable measure anyway. Have a look at the URL below.
It's budget day on Tuesday, but also the day the senate sits again. If he's true to his promise, we should see Senator Rex Patrick rise and move a motion to disallow CASA's new regulations on community service flights. What happens next is currently anyone's guess. When the Prime Minister moved the budget forward one complete month, he telegraphed to the nation that he's looking to send us all to an election sometime in May. The 11th and 18th are currently leading the betting market. The PM must be looking to place the government into caretaker mode very soon, in which case the motions of disallowance–one in the House and one in the Senate–are not likely to get heard. With the Labor Party an almost certainty to get in, aviation will get a new/old minister for transport: Anthony Albanese. History has shown that Albanese is not a friend of aviation. Who remembers the White Paper? Labor has indicated they will dust off the document, give it a coat of paint and present it back to the industry as their aviation policy again. Consequently, there is a chance that all the work done in the last few years cajoling the Coalition government into revitalising GA could have been wasted. No matter what happens, we really don't need another long period of uncertainty and inaction.
Much in the same way that they teased us before the launch of the M600, Piper Aircraft is again throwing out little hints about what their new trainer might be. We'll have to wait for the official announcement on Tuesday, but it's great fun speculating based on the tid-bits we've been thrown. Firstly, the graphic looks like the aircraft is going to be a further development of the PA-28 series. This makes sense given the immense pile of money that's needed to certify a clean-sheet design. Secondly, they are talking primary trainer, which leads me to think that it's a fixed-gear single. However, the graphic seems to display no wheels. Their retractable Piper Arrow hasn't set the world on fire of late, with annual deliveries over the past five years averaging seven airframes only. Has Piper worked out why and rectified it? Still, even an improved Arrow couldn't be classed as a primary trainer. And if we're talking about a fixed-gear single based on a PA-28, they already exist. So what has Piper come up with that they believe serves a need that most manufacturers of primary trainers have not already addressed? We'll have to wait until Tuesday to see.
May your gauges always be in the green,