– Steve Hitchen
Ken Cannane's unfettered optimism over the CASA SoE carries with it a very clear message: Cannane believes Barnaby Joyce is on our side. He's not alone in his faith; several other aviation advocates who spend their hours slogging around the halls of Canberra are expressing similar sentiments. With the Aviation Recovery Framework and the CASA SoE providing evidence that their faith is well-placed, you can't blame them for hailing Joyce as somewhat of a messiah. No other minister has made such in-roads to the problem in such a short time as he has done. In a contrary position, there are also advocates who prefer to reserve their accolades until things have been done and not just written. Too often aviation's optimists have had their sunny outlooks shaded by an overcast of promises that weren't backed by actions, understandably causing them to suspect more of the same every time another promise is aired. Who can remember their demenour in the weeks following the release of the Aviation Safety Regulation Review in 2014? Those were heady times when we thought everything was going to be fixed. So is Cannane wasting his optimism on the promises offered by more documents? I would say "yes" were it not for the many others who are sharing his sentiments at the moment. For the first time, people are believing the words cometh before the actions ... unless Barnaby Joyce finds himself Shadow Minister come late May.
Now here's something for everyone to feel optimistic about: a 760-kg MTOW Brumby Evolution. High wing, all metal, 141-hp motor, a projected useful load of around 360 kg and an "easy cruise" of 120 KTAS. This could be the aeroplane Australia needs right now and has been waiting for for several years. The new 760-kg limit expected to be granted to RAAus mid year has galvanised Brumby to see exactly what they can do with their high-wing airframe. Isn't it amazing what can be done when the shackles are released a bit? Without CASA granting the new MTOW to Part 149 organisations, innovation like this would be absolutely impossible and the incentive to reach for bigger and better wouldn't be there anyway. Brumby also has a leg-up on other aircraft manufacturers because the new MTOW limit is unique to Australia. LSA manufacturers in Europe won't be looking to build to 760 kg because LSAs are still limited to 600 kg and our market simply isn't big enough to warrant new designs and new certification. But Brumby's prime market is right here, and the 610 Evolution air frame needs only some modification and testing to achieve the new weight limit. And, in most cases, the projections for the Brumby 760 are that it will carry more and go faster than most LSAs whilst coming in around the same price or less. It's only real rival at the moment is South Africa's Sling 2, which already has an MTOW of 700 kg provided it's not the LSA version. The sticking point for everyone remains the 45-knot minimum stall speed. Negotiations are underway with CASA to have this lifted so owners can take advantage of the new MTOW; it would be a serious misjustice if more capable aeroplanes were stillborn because of a lack of bureaucratic flexibility.
Ian Honnery deserves to be inducted into the Australian Aviation Hall of Fame (AAHOF). Honnery has been the blood, sweat and tears behind the AMDA Foundation and its various iterations and the Australian International Airshow for 46 years. I doubt there are many people in aviation in Australia that have stayed at their posts for that long, especially when they have well-developed skill sets that all sorts of corporations will pay good money to acquire. Honnery is considered one of Australian aviation's great idea's people; the sort of bloke who would dreams of things and asks "why not?" The Avalon air show was AMDA's showpiece, but Honnery also steered AMDA in to the maritime market with the Indo-Pacific Exposition, defence with Land Forces, GA with RotorTech and security with CivSec. Most recently, AMDA has also provided financial backing to RAAus' new national fly-in Fly'n for Fun and the regional airlines with the RAAA roadshow series. Honnery also green-ticked the idea of giving space to GA associations in the outfield of Avalon free of charge. Without that initiative, AOPA, RAAus, SAAA and others wouldn't be able to showcase themselves to the general public at Australia's largest aviation event. Ian Honnery is retiring at the end of March and handing AMDA over to Justin Giddings. It would be a fitting response from the market to give Honnery space in the AAHOF.
May your gauges always be in the green,