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Ref:…preads-it/ & Mick Mack a Muppet?? – Or a mouse??

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Liar, liar, hair on fire. – AP forum version. 

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Since the cave; mankind has held fire in awe and respect, along with a primal fear. Whether it is your favourite Elvis wig self combusting; or, the raging inferno of a massive bush fire, there has always been a need to manage and keep the fire daemon on a short leash. There cannot be too many Australians who have not witnessed the courage, skill and endurance of those who fought in the recent battles, to save lives, property and our national forests. One cohort of that effort were the ‘fire bombers’. 

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But I wonder, how many Australians can truly value not only the skill and experience required to fly a small, heavily loaded aircraft through turbulence, smoke and heat at a low (tree top) level, repeatedly, but also, to be aware of the systems and mechanisms in place which ensure that the operation is conducted as ‘safely’ as possible. It is indeed a ‘high risk’ task, managing that risk requires some serious expertise and experience.

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“We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.” ― Tennessee Williams, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore

Experience and expertise – where can that be found? The minister and CASA would have you believe that it resides within their collective wisdom. This is a faerie story: spun to placate frightened, ignorant children. You will find, if you take a look behind the smoke and mirrors, that the real arbiters of risk management and operational expertise reside squarely within the industry itself; not in Canberra. The twelfth submission made, to yet another Senate aviation inquiry by the Aerial Application Association of Australia (AAAA) clearly and unequivocally demonstrates where the experience and expertise resides. The submission also clearly defines the industry wide dissatisfaction with CASA and the way that department conducts business. It also says why there is little to no respect for the edicts laid down by that organisation.  

AAAA –CASA officer interpretations – an issue that was at the core of the ASRR Report findings and recommendations – individual officers within CASA continue to make interpretations that are not bound by regulatory heads of power, consistency, experience, sector knowledge or specific safety risks. It is opinion parading as policy – and frequently ill-informed opinion. CASA continues to lack a coherent, centralised policy interpretation and expertise centre to standardise regulation. Different offices have different interpretations, and generally CASA is not troubled by using subject matter experts that it may have on staff – as there is no centralised policy development system. In a modern regulator that had this pointed out to them in an independent review (the ASRR), serious questions must be raised about why this situation is perpetuated by senior management.” 

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AAAA – “CASA still does not understand the difference between safety and compliance and continually considers itself to be the creator of safety, when in fact it is a well informed, safety motivated and guided industry – flying, maintaining and organising aviation operations – that creates safety. CASA clearly has an industry-accepted role in rule-setting, surveillance and enforcement – but it is industry that delivers safety. The dimension of the daunting task facing anyone in GA in simply absorbing, recalling and using the vast amount of written regulation of the industry, is now a safety impediment in its own right.”

If, (a big one) other branches of the aviation industry had the courage and determination to end this thirty year farce of ‘reform’ and bring CASA to it’s senses, wrote a similar submission, clearly defining the problems the truer experts of industry had – perhaps, maybe – the government would be forced to drop the bloody silly bipartisan bollocks and give an ailing industry what it so desperately needs; a regulator capable of working, on an equal footing – with experts ‘in the field’.

For example; in the last two years – how many ‘accidents’ could have been prevented by our parliamentary Bipartisan supported Muppet shows, we call ‘air-safety’ agencies? Across the whole spectrum of ‘accident’ we find three consistent elements involved at ground level. Take any one of the recent (within three years) and read the ATSB reports; carefully. Ross Air (MTF – lots) and Pel-Air classic examples of where CASA failed to act, with full knowledge that there were operational problems; a mid air collision which has been carefully ignored to avoid exposing the parsimonious, profit driven failings of our national air traffic control management etc. I could bang on and provide a dozen example which, honestly, should alarm any government which had the ‘safety’ of the travelling public at heart.

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Alas. All we got was an Elvis lookalike with a highly developed party trick of changing feet, every time he opens his mouth. Perhaps his tea lady/ minder could read, out loud, to him the following paragraphs:-

“Jack your comment has much merit, private travel for all sorts of reasons, as well as the economy of business, will gain in popularity. A natural progression enormously boosted by the virus outbreak. General Aviation (GA) could provide a great many services and create thousands of jobs and businesses but in Australia it has become hamstrung by the most counterproductive, unworkable and money wasting rules. This bureaucratic trajectory, seemingly unhampered by realities, stems from the independent regulator CASA governing itself with virtually no Ministerial input.

“The decline of a once growing industry (our country most suited to take advantage of GA) is astounding when one considers the general population growth of what is supposed to be an educated and free enterprise first world country. This situation, grown over the last thirty two years is so bad that now some Australians are enticed to learn flying in the USA in spite of travel, accommodation and the exchange rate.

“We’ve lost much of the skilled specialist personnel and hundreds of flying school and charter services have closed. To cap the whole sorry saga, the low weight category was unwisely split off from mainstream GA inducing thousands into a category (Recreational Aviation Australia, virtually a government sponsored monopoly company in some ways in unhealthy competition with the remainder of GA) of very small aircraft often much less suited to Australian conditions. Strangely all of the above seems to escaped the consciousness of the mainstream media, even in aviation journalism it gets little attention.

But, life does have it’s special moments; baby sat an eight week old puppy for a mate last night, about the size of my size 10 work boot. The pup decided that this was fair game a seriously set about dragging said boot across the stable for the big dog to ‘sort out’. Big dog knows better than to chew work boots, pup got cranky – you had to see it I reckon – but it cracked me up. Use your imagination. Aye well, there’s work to be done – if I could find my boot, I’d get going. But I can smell baking and coffee, perhaps a visit to the realms of domestic tyranny is warranted –