– Steve Hitchen

Aviation is an activity based on process and procedure. We have checklists for most of the things we do; either committed to memory or physical cards. The idea of following processes and procedures is to ensure that we don't forget to do something that is critical to safe flight, or to make sure we get the outcome we want. Pre-start checklists have to be done in a specific order or you might not get the right outcome: an engine start. The customary TMPFISCH focuses our attention on the putting the aircraft in the right condition for take-off, but doesn't necessarily have to be done in that sequence if you can come up with a better mnemonic. Where it all comes apart is if something happens to distract us during the procedure. An instructor who wants to talk to you about something right now. A passenger who wants to ask what that protrusion at the back is while you're still checking the prop. Ground staff who want to tell you not to park here when you get back because they want to mow the lawn. When that happens (and it happens often), the most important thing you can do is recognise that the sequence has been disturbed and already have a strategy for dealing with it. You might go back to the last thing you remember checking and check it again, then go on; you might admonish the instructor and demand you finish the vital actions first. Last weekend my processes were broken twice and both times something was overlooked. Neither was dangerous; both were embarrassing. The worst part was that I failed to recognise the danger of interruption and went ahead as if everything was hunky-dory. That was the biggest mistake I made (twice!), not the actual oversights themselves. I got away with it cheap; next time I might not.

There are two ways of looking at the statistics that CASA released on the number of schools making the transition to Part 141/142. You could say that 235 organisations made the switch, which proves the new regulations are capable of being adhered to, or you could say that Part 141/142 killed 22 flying schools and has another 10 hanging in there. No doubt the colour of your general opinion of regulatory reform will impact your perception of the announcement. It would be tough to say that Part 141/142 killed off 22 schools. Flying schools have been dying-off for years well before the transition to the new rules began, and these 22 could be natural attrition. However, speaking to several school owners, the impost of conforming to the new rules was mountainous, so there's no way it could not have had some impact on the decision to close their doors. Schools already under financial stress would have found this a very large straw to be loading on the company camel; it was so even for those that made the move successfully.

Congratulations to Team Show Me the Mooney out of Coffs Harbour, firstly for having a great team name; and secondly, for taking line honours in the 2018 Outback Air Race. The honour of top fundraiser went to Tait Auto Group who alone raised more than 10% of the total. All 38 teams put in this year and poured over $500,000 into the RFDS coffers; money that is very much needed and very well placed. All 90 competitors and the organisers can rightfully be proud of such a great effort. Onwards to the next one!

May your gauges always be in the green,


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