– Steve Hitchen
CASA's Robinson helicopter report has shown that, by-and-large, there is not much to report. There is no growing trend in accident/incidents with either R22s or R44s and the occurrence rate is proportional to the number of those types on the Australian register. Everybody back in your seats; there's nothing exciting happening. And that has me thinking. What triggered CASA to commission this report? It can only have been a suspicion that an adverse trend was developing, and given that suspicious minds are curious ones, a statistical study was the logical next step. Trends are indicators that something is changing, but when you look at all the causes of the occurrences, most of them are pilot-related rather than mechanical failures, which means the only trends that could have developed are poor airmanship or unreasonable pressures. These are human factors that aren't typically related to the brand of aircraft, so, having ascertained that there are no increasing trends with anything that comes in a Robinson box, perhaps the next report should look at all makes. And then start on fixed-wings.
RPT services to Mabuiag and Darnley Islands in the Torres Strait have been restored after Skytrans proved that their C208s could operate safety there after all. That should please Senator Susan McDonald, who went off like the Long Room at Lord's when CASA dug in their heels and refused to compromise over landing safety factors. I said back on 16 June that I thought this issue was more related to the aeroplane and making it work with economical loads than it was to the runway lengths. Skytrans proved the point with demonstration flights that, my cynicism drives me to say, were probably very similar to the flights Skytrans had been doing that CASA suspended. The proof had always been there in the many safe flights that had been conducted that way over the years. The lack of accidents sort of hints at a nebulous risk to safety, so is there scope in the future for passenger flights to continue whilst the concept is proven? CASA's own language talks about "validating" and Skytrans' "long safety record", which is not the tone you tend to use if you think aeroplanes are going to start bombing off the end of runways. CASA took a "no compromise" approach, which is what regulators tend to do–their regulations are their rules of existence–but when a community relies on a service, perhaps an injection of flexibility is not out of place.
This week the 2023 CASA Wings Awards opened for nominations. Every year these awards get more and more submissions, and recognising worthy winners is one of the most rewarding things we do. It becomes obvious when we tell the winners that these awards are valued by the aviation community; most react with a touch of satisfaction and several have displayed a decent level of disbelief. With the Col Pay Award in particular, we find that although the GA community has many people whose passion and dedication drives the industry, they are shy in coming forward themselves. That's where others come into the equation. Just about everyone in GA will know someone who deserves a Col Pay, or even Flying Instructor of the Year, but they rarely come forward themselves. It is up to another to put forward their name in the form of a nomination. We're keeping the collector open until 5 November, so you've got plenty of time to work on your submission. Keep in mind the criteria (on the Australian Flying website) and try to answer each question as completely as you can. Make sure your nominee is in with a good chance.
May your gauges always be in the green,