– Steve Hitchen
One of the great problems facing Australia today is that we can't easily reverse political decisions spawned by the narrow thinking of ideology. More and more, that narrow thinking is entrenching itself in municipalities, which control the vast majority of Australia's airports. It makes aviation very vulnerable to political winds that rarely blow in our favour and elevates the risk of losing valuable infrastructure forever. That's what we have at the moment. You can see the truth in the work done by AOPA Australia and the Regional Airport Users Advisory Group (RAUAG). They're always battling municipal councils in defence of national infrastructure; infrastructure abandoned by the Federal Government and foisted on councils run by amateur politicians with zero experience in aviation. The ongoing fight for Warnervale Airport is a classic case and stands as a micro-environment that reflects what's happening in the whole country. There you have influential people that have expressed little love for the airport and displayed not only a lack of knowledge about aviation, but also a reluctance to learn. In this case, the NSW government has stepped in and launched a review of a piece of legislation written specifically to restrict that airport's operations. The battle is on. Right now you know that people who don't have the best interests of the airport or its users at heart are crafting their submissions. It is important that the aviation community in the Central Coast, greater Sydney area and probably the whole country start putting in counter-submissions that show the NSW government just how important the airport is to Australia; too important to allow narrow ideology to destroy an asset that could never be recovered.
The Ausfly 2020 dates are out nice and early. Without AirVenture this year, the pool of potential attendees shouldn't be as divided as it was last year, so hopes are up for a big one. Perhaps, the biggest yet. Ausfly was originally conceived as a national fly-in for all species of general aviation, but spirit got lost somewhere along the way and that intent seems to have been forgotten. I think the GA community has an opportunity to recover that spirit this year and create a national fly-in that will become a must-do not only for us now, but also for aviation generations in the future. How do we do that? Show up. Many air shows and fly-ins in Australia have come and gone over the years. The two greatest causes are apathy or the loss of a significant driving force. These two things are inter-related as they are both caused by the aviation community being reluctant to get involved. Ultimately, air shows and fly-ins are only as good as the aviation community allows them to be, so I encourage every single member of the GA community to get up to Narromine in October and make this Ausfly the best ever.
As predicted, the issue of the Tallawarra B power station near Wollongong continues. In previous developments, Energy Australia proposed placing a Danger Area around the plant to alert pilots to the presence of a gas plume that could pose a danger to aircraft. CASA rejected that because it didn't mitigate the danger enough. At the time, there was a feeling around the community that the matter was closed. Nope. Energy Australia has responded with the required aeronautical impact assessment, which AOPA Australia has slammed. That drew a response from the proponents, which you can read on the Australian Flying website. it's all about the speed the gas plume comes out of the plant. Currently the projections are right on the allowable limit, although AOPA Australia is saying the limits are designed not for GA and recreational aeroplanes. Right now, Energy Australia is working on an engineering solution to slow down the gas plume velocity, but a solution to the issue seems a long way off at the moment, given that the opposing parties can't even agree on the scope of the problem.
May your gauges always be in the green,