Select Page

For as much as I admire Dick Smith for what he has achieved and for what he has done for the community, when it comes to aviation he is a one trick pony. His hobby horse, to continue the equine analogy, is airspace reform and nothing I have read or heard recently makes me believe he has any other agenda. He had his chance to fundamentally alter the aviation landscape and because of his crash through or crash style of management he blew it. That style of management will not work in the halls of civil service or politics despite how much we despise the thought.

What is required is massive fundamental change. Not a nibble at Part 61 here, a slight shift in Part 145 etc etc. It requires the admission that the past 25 years or so was a total waste of time and money, a blind alley, a mistake. The EASA regulations are the product of having to coordinate a large number of sovereign countries aviation administration into one set of overarching rules. It had to seamlessly allow for cross-border transport operations that would work on a daily basis without causing diplomatic disasters. It was always going to be bureaucratic as a result. Despite what many in Australia maintain, there is a GA in Europe and it is effectively regulated by the individual states. The European Union membership allows for flying at the GA level to cross borders relatively easily. EASA is totally unsuited to Australia with its large GA sector, albeit disappearing southwards, and lack of numerous borders to have cross.

Australia needs to simplify its regulatory framework. Make it easier to comply with and you will achieve a higher safety standard. The current approach is merely designed to destroy the GA sector. If Dick was prepared to expand his aim beyond airspace design AND be prepared to alter his style of “management”, for want of a better word, then something might be achieved. Certainly he gets the press attention but then the press have the attention span of a goldfish and it will be old news tomorrow and forgotten. As an aside I would have thought that 4 Corners would have seen the parlous state of aviation while investigating their two stories but nothing seems to have come from it.

We are living on the safety credit built up in earlier times but the supply is running down rapidly and the clock is ticking. I am now despairing that something meaningful will be achieved to reform aviation without either a large smoking hole in the ground or a metaphorical bomb from someone like the FAA or EASA banning Australian aircraft from their airspace. Unfortunately, the former seems more likely.

Sunday morning rant. Apologies. Time to go and do something entirely non-aviation linked to try and calm down.