– Steve Hitchen
Does bureaucracy begat bureaucracy, and does bureaucracy begat safety? The answers are Yes and No. If you study the decisions of bureaucrats over time, it becomes apparent that their main course of action (when they decide action is indeed needed) is to create more bureaucracy. There is perhaps no better example than the decision by CASA's bureaucrats to write CASR Part 141 and 142 ... the latter in particular. Part 142 requires all sorts of management systems and managers put in place to oversee a system that was working quite well before the regulations were implemented. In effect, CASA demanded that training organisations install their very own bureaucracies, with absolutely no care in the world as to the economic impact of doing so. Of all the industries in the world, bureaucracies represent the worst return on investment, contributing significantly to the cost base without adding commensurate value to the company. It's even worse when that company is trying to earn money from general aviation. The impact was not as great at the "sausage factory" academies, many of which already had the desired managers in place, but it delivered a crushing blow to the smaller schools by depriving them of conducting 150-hour CPLs. It seems someone at CASA decided that CPLs should be trained largely by integrated courses rather than the traditional 200-hour syllabus available to Part 141 schools. But is a 150-hour CPL better than a 200-hour CPL? The answer is still being debated, which in itself is a worry, because such an upheaval forced on the industry should have had immediate and obvious safety benefits. More cost, no apparent increase in safety. That is a situation that only bureaucracy could have achieved and only bureaucracy will maintain.
Tyabb Airport is going unto the breech once more to defend its simple right to exist. The Mornington Peninsula Shire Council has tried to shut them down using a very transparent piece of chicanery. Apparently they can't find the permits that allow the businesses to operate, and have therefore ordered them to cease operations. I feel sorry for MPSC; they are going to get their arses kicked from pillar to post, and its all because they have allowed their ears to be borrowed by a small faction of anti-airport Johnnies-come-lately who are clearly forcing the council to take questionable action. Only a few weeks ago, the very same council ordered the airport to adhere to a 50-year-old restriction that prevented them from flying during church hours on Sunday morning. The church in question has been a cafe for over 30 years. I also have trouble believing the council has only just discovered the permits are missing. Can they also not find the permits for the hangars built only a few year back, a case which went to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)? Surely in putting together the legal case which they inevitably lost, MPSC sought out all paperwork relating to the airport and the operations. Were the permits not found then? If yes, then why have they waited until now to take action. If no, then clearly they have gone astray only in the past few years. Either way, whatever court is inevitably going to hear this dispute is unlikely to be happy with this piece of maladministration.
The battle between Angel Flight and CASA is progressing slowly through the court system, as so many matters do. Angel Flight is claiming the restrictions placed on them by CASA represents a denial of natural justice and that telling private pilots who they can and can't carry in their aeroplanes is outside CASA's authority. The regulator is making a play to avoid the natural justice issue saying it falls outside the jurisdiction of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977. Their argument is that the community service flight regs are legislative, not administrative. That's a move to be expected when you think back. CASA DAS Shane Carmody told Senate Estimates that he expected the restrictions would have little impact on the operation of community service flights, but CASA imposed them anyway. This does seem to lack the simple logic and nexus to an increase in safety that natural justice demands. However, that's my view, and Australia's courts don't have a great record in understanding aviation. This is a swordfight worth watching.
May your gauges always be in the green,