– Steve Hitchen
Australia has a history of re-inventing the wheel. Proof positive lies in a Melbourne man who in 2001 was granted a patent for a " circular transportation facilitation device", better known as a wheel. Only in Australia. The term is often applied to aviation safety regulation, where CASA spent millions of dollars and more than 30 years recreating legislation when many considered suitable material could have been adopted from overseas. So with Part 43 on general aviation aircraft maintenance under development, CASA asked the aviation community what the new regs should be based on. The overwhelming feedback said FAR Part 43 from the USA. And so CASA has promised to base CASR Part 43 on the US system. However, some of the underpinning legislation that supports FAR 43 will be missing. AMROBA's Ken Cannane rightly points out that the education and training regimes that make FAR Part 43 work are not coming with it. Aviation safety regulation is a symbiotic network of rules, no part of which exists in a fishbowl. They all work together to theoretically ensure aviation safety (although in practice the density of rules doesn't translate to the same value in safety). So the interfaces between rule sets have to be robust and functional, without which the value of regulations can be diluted. That's what irks Cannane and AMROBA: without importing the training and education regimes with the Part 43 rules we may be sacrificing the chance to reduce costs whilst maintaining the same levels of safety. The industry will get the chance to have its say in the next couple of months, but it's a Monty that maintenance organisations will want all of FAR 43 and the associated training standards to come in as one package rather than have CASA create a wheel of its own.
We have our first glimpse of the 2022 world championship air race series. Now re-styled as Air Race World Championship (ARWC), the organisers have announced a race in Jakarta, Indonesia, at the end of the year. What we don't know at the moment is where that event sits into the overall calendar. With the year deep into March and major events needing a lot of lead-up time to promote, organise and sell tickets, it's becoming obvious the season will probably start in the northern summer, which really means the first race won't happen until June. The organisers of that race, regardless of where it is, will need the usual lead-up, which means the date of the first race is likely to be announced no later than mid April. The lack of information on the whens and wheres is a bit frustrating for fans of the series and ARWC is currently forfeiting significant promo opportunities given that there is little else to say at the moment. Discouraging as it is–especially for Australians who have been teased with the potential of a race at Lake Macquarie–when the series does get under way we can expect a ripper of a program with all the thrills and lack of spills that characterised its ancestor series the Red Bull Air Race. Bring it on, I say ... just bring it on soon.
Is there something about the air in Cowra? Late last month I was invited to the Australian Beechcraft Society (ABS) pilot proficiency program (PPP) at Cowra in the south-western plains of NSW. Up there I became aware that the ABS was not the only breed group locating their PPPs there. In March this year, both the Australian Piper Aircraft Society and the Airtourer Association are gathering in Cowra for their PPPs. The reasons I was given–no controlled airspace, long sealed runway, large town, good weather patterns, centrally located–don't stack up because that could describe most of the towns in the Riverina district and Western Plains of NSW. Ah, but when you add in one of Australia's best flying schools in FlyOz you have tipped the scales. Flying under the supervision or tutelage of FlyOz's Lyn Gray means the training and mentorship you receive from the instructors is world-class and delivered with high levels of fidelity and ardour, without sacrificing the fun element. But for all that, even the super-passionate ABS could attract only 30 of the hundreds of Beechcraft aeroplanes registered in Australia, and I suspect the figures for the Piper and Airtourer associations will work out to be in that neighbourhood too. PPPs are too good an opportunity to pass up, so if you're not on the list for the next one appropriate to you, get on the phone and do something about it.
May your gauges always be in the green,