When Darren Chester announced last year that he was sending Shane Carmody into CASA until they could find a replacement for Mark Skidmore, the general aviation industry at large greeted the decision with muted mutterings of "not a bad decision." Indeed there were a few less-muted calls to just give him the damn job and be done with it. Carmody was considered a good operator who wore a white hat when it came to sensibility and efficiency. This week he was confirmed as the CEO and Director of Aviation Safety for the next five years, but already some industry commentators have switched sides based on Carmody's performance as Acting DAS. Part of that, I believe, is simply because GA in particular didn't get its preferred candidate, and part is because Carmody failed to press a magic switch at Aviation House that fixed everything instantly ... as if that was possible. Anyone who believes that there is an instant fix clearly doesn't understand depth of the mire in which CASA is entrenched. Even if he wore his underpants on the outside, Shane Carmody can't save the day simply by the act of arriving. This is a bureaucracy that hasn't completed a reform project after 29 years; you don't sort that out with a magic wand, you sort it out with hard work and a lot of personal perspiration. We are about to see exactly how close Carmody is prepared to put his nose to the grindstone, and as an aviation community it is our job to make sure he knows where the grindstone is.
And if you want an example of the standard of some of the work coming from CASA, I present to you Airworthiness Directive AD/GENERAL/87. To put it in the simplest terms, this AD told aircraft owners to throw out any control cables older than 15 years. So that means any aircraft built after 2002 was in the gun. In a GA perspective 15 years is still a new aeroplane! Someone in CASA has revised the requirement to "inspect and throw out if damaged", which is probably what the original AD should have said. Of course, many aircraft owners would have already complied and junked perfectly good cables in the process, and now AOPA Australia wants to measure exactly how many were replaced and what condition they were in. The idea is to gauge the depth of the impact crater this AD had on GA, and compile a report. If the report shows a smoking hole in the operating costs of aircraft owners, you can bet it will be used as waddy to beat CASA with.
Speaking of AOPA, they're also spreading their wings further and seeking people to represent them on the various Regional Airspace and Procedures Advisory Committees (RAPAC) around Australia. RAPACs convene on a regular basis to discuss regional issues concerning the way we use the airspace and provide recommendations and feedback to CASA. RAPACs mostly work under the radar, but occasionally will get involved with more high-profile issues such as the low-level frequency debate that has been going on for over a year. It's voluntary work, but you'll get involved with some very important work. If you're up for it, contact Ben Morgan at AOPA email@example.com
May your gauges always be in the green,