– Steve Hitchen

There is considerable cost shifting to aircraft operators as result of transition to satellite-based technologies.

The cost for equipage to the GA sector is $134.85 million, which is 92 per cent of the avionics equipage cost for the ADS-B program.

These quotes are pretty definitive, and they come from the CASA Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) done back in 2010 for the mandatory fitment of ADS-B in IFR aircraft. I am putting them forward again now because AOPA Australia has decided to have another crack at getting the government to cover some of the cost of implementing ADS-B in this country. That's been triggered by Airservices Australia posting a neat little net profit after tax (NPAT) of $74.5 million for the 2017-18 year. If Arthur Daley was here right now he would describe it as "a nice little earner". But has it come because GA picked up the bill for ADS-B? CASA prophesied the cost transfer by the first quote above, but we didn't really need them to do that; it was a no-brainer from the beginning that owners were going to have to pay. Airservices originally talked rebate as an incentive to get people to fit, paid out of the savings accrued by not upgrading the en route radars and decommissioning the navaids. However, the bitter debate went on so long that Airservices had to upgrade the radars anyway. So, no subsidies ... presuming there were actually going to be any in the first place. After all, once CASA had been convinced to mandate ADS-B, Airservices could put their wallets back in their pockets. Why give them money for something they are going to be forced to do anyway? Well, Airservices has now a bit of cash back in the bank, so there is a fair argument that some of that should flow back to the aircraft operators. Will it happen? It's unlikely. The government is loving a cashed-up Airservices especially given they are trying to tame a financial beast as unruly as the OneSKY project, and won't be keen to give money to GA when CASA's mandate has erased any need for incentives. It could happen, but only if a political expedient arises to make it desirable for whatever government we have after mid May.

Let me stand up and applaud the choice of Nancy-Bird Walton for the new Western Sydney Airport. She was a pioneer of aviation in the country, a student of Kingsford Smith no less, contributed to the war effort as Commandant of the Women's Air Training Corps and founded the Australian Women Pilots Association (AWPA). There could be no better person to name the new airport after. However, the naming is Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport; I believe it should have been the other way around. Inevitably the name in the parentheses gets lost and therefore so does the tribute. We all know Sydney International is really called Kingsford Smith, but you wouldn't learn that from their website. The same goes for Moorabbin, which is properly called Moorabbin (Harry Hawker) Airport. Anecdotally, they have even removed the name from the sign at the gate! Nancy was a hard-working trailblazer not only for women, but for all aviators in Australia, and she deserves a better tribute than to be parentheses that will one day be nothing more than the answer to a trivia question. Nope, I vote for Nancy-Bird Walton (Western Sydney) International Airport. I might just be shouting at the devil, but some devils just need to be shouted at.

Both Dassault and Embraer are making pitches for a chunk of the Australian business jet market, which tends to be dominated by Cessna, Lear and Gulfstream. As their jets get longer range, both manufacturers eye the long distances Australian corporate jets cover as executives wander overseas; our export markets are a long way from us. But their biggest competitors are, and have been for a long time, second-hand jets coming out of the USA. As bizjet makers upgrade their systems and capabilties, Australian buyers are eschewing that for previous-gen models imported from the USA. There is an exception to that: the light jet market. Embraer has a good product fit in the Phenom 100 and 300, and Cessna's M2 is gaining some ground, but Dassault has no fit in that sector. Once you start jostling for market share at the low end, you find yourselves shoulder-to-shoulder also with single-engine turbo-props like the Pilatus PC-12 and Daher's TBM 900 series, and it could be that Dassault prefers to stay out of the short-range market and concentrate on their core offerings. And now enter the PC-24 just to add some more spice to the mix. With a range of 1950 nm, the PC-24 is up there with the Phenom 300, fitting in neatly at the bottom end of the jet range and offering better legs than the SETPs. With the added attraction of certification on unimproved runways, the Pilatus jet may prove to be a big disrupter in the Australian market.

May your gauges always be in the green,



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