• Australian Flying editor Steve Hitchen. (Kevin Hanrahan)
    Australian Flying editor Steve Hitchen. (Kevin Hanrahan)

– Steve Hitchen

General aviation has many pressing problems at the moment; it seems they are all around us and each one demanding extinction-level attention. Among the impending disasters is a lack of senior flying instructors and examiners in a system rigged towards a high level involvement from CFIs/HOOs and Flight Examiners. Grade 1 instructors are getting thin on the ground, which is a self-perpetuating problem in that only a Grade 1 can teach the instructor rating, ensuring there is virtually no way of doing any succession planning. The airlines have plundered the Grade 1s and have started on the Grade 2s, ripping the heart out of the training industry and curtailing any chance of training replacement instructors. It's a spiral dive that is proving hard to arrest. CASA this week relieved some of the pressure by varying the rules around flight examiner proficiency checks and permitting approved Grade 1s to do assessments for some endorsements. The represents only a start. Another good move would be to permit instructors who have ratings and endorsements to be able to teach those aspects without having to go through even more training. Right now, an instructor can have an instrument rating or an aerobatic endorsement, but no matter their skill or experience they can't teach those skills because CASA says they need to be taught to teach those skills. A pilot who has an Instructor Rating and has a CASA syllabus in their hand is likely to be very competent at teaching any skill they already have. Being barred from doing so is simply a bureaucratic roadblock that the training industry can't afford to pander to anymore.

The Federal Government has confirmed the VFR ADS-B rebate scheme is going ahead in August as planned. Hopefully that will settle the hearts of some people who had their cages rattled this week by a poorly-worded statement on the Airservices website saying the program was under review. The review applied to the rules and regulations that underpin schemes such as this, not the rebate itself. That's good news for the GA industry, and is almost certain to make a direct impact on aviation safety. The subsidy was first proposed by the Coalition government, but drew immediate support from the ALP in opposition. Good policy is good policy no matter who said it first. What GA needs now is for the ALP government to apply some of that thinking to the rest of the work done by the Coalition government and the GA community across the 2020-21 period. That work culminated in the Aviation Recovery Framework, which got a standing ovation from GA, but was condemned by the ALP as "glossing over" a range of challenges facing GA. That has confused industry commentators and advocates because the framework addressed and provided solutions for most the issues that threatened the viability of GA. Anything that was "glossed over" was probably something that we don't need, yet it seems the ALP has already determined that we do. That has triggered some nervousness that the White Paper will not only deliver too little too late, but also what it does deliver will have minimal impact on GA revitalisation because it simply wasn't needed in the beginning.

It doens't look like there is much going to stop the Brisbane Airshow from going ahead this weekend. Postponed from last weekend due to disappointing weather, the show has stumbled into clear and sunny conditions all weekend. After the torrential downpours that have bedeviled the region in the past weeks, they are due some well-deserved CAVOK. The aviation expo at Watts Bridge looks to be well supported, with major GA companies like Pilatus, Cirrus, Tecnam, Sling, PlaneSales, AvPlan and OzRunways all taking a supporting stake. So although the air display portion is geared up largely to the general public, there's plenty on the taxiways to attract the genuine GA punters also. And if you haven't yet worked it out ... you're the GA punters I'm talking about. If you're in the Watts Bridge vicinity this weekend, get down there and enjoy the show whilst the sun shines.

May your gauges always be in the green,


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