– Steve Hitchen
GA community reaction to CASA issuing an exemption for the Cessna SIDs program for private and airwork has been surprisingly mixed; from "good move" and "it's about time" to "too little too late" and "bad idea, planes are going to crash." Most of the argy-bargy has been around whether or not the SIDs program revealed a weight of Cessnas on the verge of falling apart but for the inspections and consequent maintenance. All people seem to be able to agree on is that it cost a heap of money and caused some airframes to be permanently retired because the cost outweighed the value of the aircraft. However, we the GA community understand the nature of our regulator, whether we stomach it well or not, and there's very little chance that they would be happy to grant an extension if it meant Cessnas were going to expire mid-flight and rain down on the general public. The experiences of the Australian program and the voluntary program overseas would have to be such that CASA feels the mandatory nature is old hat. That could be because the bulk of the work that weeded out projected problems (real or not) has been done, leaving only airframes in reliable condition.The good news is that CASA has confirmed that the exemption will extend to aircraft used in training operations.
Fly'n for Fun is off to a great start according to organisers RAAus. Their bouyant and optimistic statements are, however, what you would expect from the organising entity; they're hardly going to can themselves and their army of volunteers. From the perspectives of those that went, Fly'n for Fun was everything you could expect from an embryonic fly-in and everyone I spoke to was happy to have been there. It is being seen as a healthy foundation for the future. But still events such as this one and Ausfly scheduled for September are plagued by the continuing absence of major companies and organisations within the GA community. The heavy-hauling that provides momentum to events like these is being done by the usual suspects: AvPlan, OzRunways, Garmin, Sling, Tecnam. Companies like this are the mainstays of Australian fly-ins at the moment. They could use some help from larger organisations with more resources behind them to grow GA events into the absolute best that they can be. It advantages everyone within the GA community to have larger, more well-attended national fly-ins than we have at the moment. That is not lost on AMDA Foundation, which came on board Fly'n for Fun as a major sponsor this year. That's an organisation that has a habit of turning to gold most things that they touch: Avalon, LandForces, RotorTech ... Their vision for a vibrant, healthy national GA fly-in should be encouraging to major corporations. Even though they are on board Fly'n for Fun as a sponsor only and not as an organiser, they wouldn't be putting their money where their reputation is if they didn't think it was well spent and worth it for the GA community. The example has been set; it's up to others now to follow.
Racing is back in Australia! There are only a few days between us now and the announcement of the venue for the Australian round of the Air Race World Championship (ARWC) on 11 April. It will be somewhat of a shock if that venue isn't Lake Macquarie. Last night the Malaysian round was revealed to join the UK, Indonesia and Australia as firm locations for the 2022 series. ARWC is anticipating more revelations in the coming weeks. Apart from being the fastest motorsport event in the world, ARWC is also a high-order spectacle that is going to shove aviation in the limelight for about a week in November. That's good for GA in Australia from every imaginable perspective. Watching the best aerobatic pilots flying the best aerobatic aeroplanes can excite and inspire people from outside the GA community to get inside the GA community and see what it can do for them. We hear so many stories about passionate aviators that were inspired to get into the game by first watching from across the fence. With good promotion and support from with the existing GA community, ARWC could be a real shot in the arm to encourage younger people in Australia to give flying a go. And may I say without any bias whatsoever ... Go Matt Hall!
May your gauges always be in the green,