• AWAL provides administration to all warbirds registered in the Limited category. (Steve Hitchen)
    AWAL provides administration to all warbirds registered in the Limited category. (Steve Hitchen)

Australian Warbirds Association Ltd (AWAL) president Mark Awad has expressed fears that CASA might be seeking to cut self-administration funding to his organisation.

Approved self-administering aviation organisations (ASAAO) such as AWAL are provided funds from CASA to cover the costs of administering aircraft and pilots in their specific sector.

In a note to membership sent out on 20 April, Awad said that CASA provides AWAL with approximately $60,000 per year to administer the wardbird sector, but that the funding level was now under threat.

"We get an awful lot done on a very modest budget and rely on the CASA grant funding as a major component of that," Awad said. "Unfortunately, this grant is currently under threat!

"Some of the other groups receive more than twice as much as we do in grant money from CASA. Ostensibly (or so we are told), this is because they oversee larger numbers of aircraft and/or activities. Many of these groups (RAAus, the APF, and GFA are some examples) have significantly stronger revenue-generating capabilities than us through their much-larger member bases and aircraft numbers. 

"In a few cases they bring in millions annually (RAAus has approximately $3 million in annual income while the Australian Parachute Federation has revenue of between $5 and $10 million)!  Where we have three part-time contractors/employees, some of these other groups have large full-time staffs.

"For at least some of these groups, however, their income is apparently not enough. They have hounded CASA for more funding to make up for their shortfalls. Rather than either allocating more money to the sport organisations across the board or just saying "No" to them, CASA is considering what we view to be the worst possible solution:  giving in to these groups by taking some of the funding from others such as AWAL!

"[there is] no two ways about it: this is wrong!"

According to a CASA spokesperson, the regulator is currently reviewing all funding arrangements for self-administering groups such as AWAL.

"CASA does not intend to change the total funding provided to self-administering organisations collectively," the spokesperson said.

"CASA is proposing a different distribution of those limited funds based on principles relating to the functions and size of each self-administering organisation, as well as participation in their area of aviation."

CASA has sent all self-administering organisations a questionnaire to collect views whether the current funding arrangements should be changed, if the principles are fair and how proposed changes may impact their operations.

"To reflect the current environment there is a need for transparency of the methodology used for distribution of our limited pool of self-administration aviation funding to provide the greatest overall safety outcomes," the CASA spokesperson said.

"CASA is committed to treating all self-administering aviation organisations fairly and equitably."

In 2017, AWAL's income included $60,000 from CASA, $70,000 in membership fees and $93,000 in admin charges. The organisation made a small profit of $23,000 for the year.

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