Steve Hitchen

Is Textron about to buy Bombardier's executive jet business? Reports from the USA seem pretty adamant, based on Bombardier's need to reduce debt and Textron being effectively the only company out there that could do with expanding into the top end of the market and is capable of taking it on. Cessna's Citation range have the Learjet 75 and the Challenger 350 covered, but above that Textron and Bombardier aren't in the same market. There is no Citation with a range beyond 3500 nm, which most of the Challenger and Global range will cover with ease, so plane-for-plane it seems to make sense. It could, however, mean the end of the Learjet range; the Citation M2 and CJ3 regularly attract more customers than Bombardier's entry-level offering. Taking on the Challenger and Global designs would enable Textron to shape up to both Dassault and Gulfstream, and the bizjet market is one of the more bouyant at the moment, with shipments up 15.4% to Q3 2019. But Textron's expansion focus has been on turbo-props with cash committed to developing the Denali and SkyCourier, and adding the Bombardier range could be a distraction from their strategic direction.

Yesterday CASA released some clarifying advice on what happens when a student pilot wants to change schools. This has been something that's been going on since flying schools were invented, and there have been many pilots–including me–that have swapped schools mid stream. There are many valid reasons why a student pilot would swap schools: relocation, moving to stay with an instructor who has moved, better aeroplanes, problems getting slots ... I won't go on. So why has CASA released this advice now? There are probably two main factors behind it: Part 61/141/142 and a growing nervousness about the stability and viability of some businesses. The inception of the 150-hour CPL and the divide created between Part 141 and 142 has caused confusion in this area that is probably the catalyst behind the advice released yesterday, and some of that confusion was shared between the flying school, the student and even representatives of the regulator. The problem of viability is not a new one either; training organisations have been rising and falling as long as anyone can remember. The nervousness is largely about those schools that want payment in advance or have all their HECS debt tied up with the school. In the advice, CASA has moved to distance themselves from the VET system, noting that completing the CPL syllabus does not complete a VET qualification, and that costs are completely out of their hands. CASA also mentions the need to train in recognised aeroplances. It's an interesting document. Give it a read.

Last week I wrote the words "Ultimately, air shows and fly-ins are only as good as the aviation community allows them to be" and this week I need to reinforce that. GA is back on the WOI agenda and Bright Events has left very few stops in the ground to encourage the GA community to get around them. As well as the expo, underwing camping has been organised and the TRA is due to be lifted at 4.00 pm, earlier than ever before. It's almost as if Bright Events has been listening to what GA people want. Two years ago, WOI's spin-off event Aviatex was not well supported and as a result it didn't go ahead. There can be no greater example of the truth in the words I wrote than that. We didn't support; we didn't get. With promixity to Sydney, Wollongong, Bathurst, Newcastle, Canberra and the greater part of the NSW coast, WOI is a very easy event to get to and not so far away from home for the trip back. With so many barriers to attendance broken down, WOI 2020 will be a good test case to see if GA really does want their own events.

May your gauges always be in the green,


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