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Of riddles; and curiosities and questions unanswered. –  AP forum version

“Life may be an arcane riddle, a play with many complementary acts or an unfinished chronicle with odd sequences. Still and all, whatever we might think or do, let us above all be attentive and expectant, since everyone is waiting for the pieces to fall into place, at one time or another.” ― Erik Pevernagie

Now children; I would bet a good deal that there is not a pilot on this planet who has solved the age old problem of ‘waiting for the pieces to fall into place’. By nature, we are prevented from rushing in on a false or uncertain notion. Most certainly ‘action’ should be taken – but there can be no action until the uncertainty is resolved – “confirm” and act – never ‘react’ – aircrew cannot afford to ‘act’ on uncertainty – for there lays the road to peril. Information is critical to solution – that and a far sight of the consequences and penalties involved in an incorrect or hasty ‘assumption’ taking precedence over prudent judgement. This much you know as far as operating an aircraft. But what are we to make of the signals and silence surrounding the fate of the industry – fair dinkum, it is a puzzle. For example:- (a tarred thumbnail sketch). 

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It is the usual run of the mill stuff – that a Senate Committee will place ‘questions on notice (QoN); those questioned toddle off back to the bunker and a put together ‘answer’ is provided. For they are indeed required to answer the questions asked – within a certain time period. The ‘answers’ (as an aside) are usually about as much use as three men away from home – however – an ‘on-time’ (give or take) answer is usually produced. So what are we to make of a raft of questions – honestly asked – by the likes of Sterle and McDonald; which, are not only unanswered, but not even available from the hard working Secretariat? Even when Murky ran the show, he at least had the courtesy to provide a ‘non’ reply to a QoN, t’is a puzzle with two possible explanations. One at short odds – there is a quiet, but major change happening; or, if you prefer long odds – the government is being told to bugger off and butt out. ICAO looms large in global terms; the SSP is in tatters and the Australian international reputation is at an all time low. However, I’ll take your bets – each way major reform – 6/1 for Butt Out.

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“If I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it – keep going, keep going come what may.” ― Vincent van Gogh, The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Another quandary is the way our Commonwealth land is being gobbled up at a frantic pace by developers – is this before the gate closes? Once again, the waiting game is on. It has been a good long time since ATSB started the ‘investigation’ into the approval for that building (the DFO) at Essendon. The lacklustre performance and subsequent lack of ‘enthusiasm’ for the ‘Hood’ style of no investigation worth the candle; and, the endless delay in proper reporting ‘fact and circumstance’ of accident is wearing awful thin. When you add that the RA Oz crew don’t publish investigation and the delay in providing any form of meaningful report; and, the piffle eventually published – you are once again left with a puzzle. Why? What ATSB have achieved the last few years is a pitiful shadow of what it once was; now, an international joke and an embarrassment. This before we begin to try and prevent recurrence by learning from ‘accident’ and incident. It shames this once proud aviation nation. 

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“Nobody knows how things will turn out, that’s why they go ahead and play the game…You give it your all and sometimes amazing things happen, but it’s hardly ever what you expect.” ― Gennifer Choldenko, Al Capone Does My Shirts

Then we have the great regulation and SSP puzzle. I can never quite figure out exactly why we chose to basically thumb our nose at ICAO compliance. On the ‘sinister’ side we can weigh in ‘control’ of every aspect of operations. On the dark side we can ignore providing a sector risk analysis and let industry experts take the lead in resolving the inherent ‘risks’ in their operations. What we cannot do is allow the ‘administrator’ to dictate, from a less than expert stance – how we address the risks and can be held accountable for a paper clip out of place – without the regulator taking any responsibility for their part in and approval of the manuals we work with. It is a ludicrous situation; “do this or no approval” – something goes wrong and; guess, who carry’s the can.

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“The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. If you would take a man’s life, you owe it to him to look into his eyes and hear his final words. And if you cannot bear to do that, then perhaps the man does not deserve to die.” ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

Then we must consider the ‘mystery’ surrounding the ASA parsimonious, pettifogging, purblind, KPI driven response to what they should be providing against that which is ‘doled’ out. It is a simple enough case M’lud. Kickatinalong has perhaps twenty movement a week – including Air Ambulance and ‘Offenders transport to court. Now, if a gold mine was discovered, and movements increased to thirty a week the airspace can be considered ‘safe’ under the present system? Yes; But: when the mine is developing and being built – the movements increase 20 fold; when the mine is operational and once FIFO crews begin to rotate – 50 fold, with ‘jet traffic’ may reasonably be expected. So, one could reasonably expect that ATC services would ‘ramp up’ to ensure separation and service. No way – that spending would (importantly) impact on KPI and require ‘staff’ (more expense). The impost of debt from the disastrous ‘big sky – pie in the sky scam has left ASA bereft of funds to support sensible air space changes and controllers to support air movements. Any fall in percentage ‘profit’ impacts on KPI bonus. A million a year and 10 grand KPI per month is worth keeping the lid on spending; just ensure a ‘defensible’ system of airspace management and safety is ‘seen’; ain’t the savings worth it? Bollocks it is – The model has failed – big time.


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“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” ― Socrates

But, now I’m a long way off track. The puzzle is – what is the hold up? There are literally countless containers of information regarding the failed experiments; the ignored results of ‘inquiry and commissions’. Hundreds of expert submissions dating back three decades all saying pretty much the same thing. Industry is dying outside parliament house – but nothing substantive has changed. Why not? That, boys and girls is the riddle I try to solve.

That aside; Buckley has moved to short odds the win – MTF on that when Glen picks up the bat at the next innings. The Senate committees have recovered from paralysis now the threat of an early election has diminished (amazing ain’t it); apart from that – the silence is deafening.

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This week, I built a shed. Not just an ordinary shed; but one with a ‘lean to’ to house the logs for the fire. Packed lunch every day, thermos of tea, dogs not only allowed but welcome, good bloke to work with – timber ‘on-site’ – magical. There was a treat offered on Tuesday ‘Sardines on toast’ of course we wolfed ’em down. I was puzzled when I couldn’t get the blasted cat out of the wheels on Wednesday morning – then the light came on – my old Mog loves (inadequate description) Sardines. ‘T’was a mighty struggle – DT left holding the Mog wrapped in a towel – it’s face on our return home was a study. Each dog was diligently ‘sniffed’ – just to make certain that Sardines had not been on the menu. Such is the animal mind. That’s it; I was hoping for a quiet smoke and an Ale about now, but, it seems the delegation at the stable door have another agenda. But then, what is wrong with a night stroll, in good company with a bottle or two and a cigar – just for sustenance I ask you. “Away then!” (ever see a cat do 10 knots?).

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“Our labour preserves us from three great evils — weariness, vice, and want― Voltaire, Candide