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P2 comment: Our EAL (editor at large) is currently swanning around QLD somewhere, so this week’s SBG will be delayed by a couple of days?? 

In the meantime outstanding industry issues and concerns don’t stand still for nobody. The following are some thread links extracted from the AP forum and off some of the PAIN_Net email chains. Read and enjoy – or NOT!

First with an extract from the BITRE GA report:

Case Study 2 – North Queensland Aero Club
The North Queensland Aero Club is a flight training school, scenic flight operator and light aircraft charter company that commenced operations in the late 1940s out of Cairns Airport. The Club currently has about 150 members and offers training up to CPL. The North Queensland Aero Club recently started offering recreational flight training to attain RPCs with a Jabiru 160 registered with RAAus.

Ownership of the Cairns Airport did not shift to the Cairns Regional Council as part of the Commonwealth’s divestment program, but instead shifted to the Queensland Government in 1982, with the airport managed by the Cairns Harbour Board (later named the Cairns Port Authority). In 2008, the Queensland Government sold Cairns Airport to North Queensland Airports group.

The North Queensland Aero Club building was owned by the Cairns Airport, which provided the building to the Club on a lease. In 2014, the lease expired and the rent costs rose 500 per cent to $5,500 per month, with an additional land tax of $10,000 per year. Only a short term (one year) lease renewal was available as the Airport was planning to move all GA businesses to a new GA precinct on the Eastern side of the airport, to make space for a business district on the Western side of the airport on the Captain Cook Highway. The Aero Club expected rents to double on the Eastern side of the airport.

Cairns Airport subsequently abandoned plans to move the GA precinct to the Eastern side of the Airport as there is insufficient demand for a business district.

The Aero Club accumulated significant debt under the higher rents. In 2015, the Aero Club relocated to the Mareeba Airport on the Atherton Tableland, about an hour’s drive from Cairns. The Aero Club’s accommodation costs are now $1,500 per month.

The North Queensland Aero Club has found that the nature of their business has changed since it moved to Mareeba. While at Cairns Airport, 80 per cent of the Aero Club’s business was flight training and about 20 per cent was charter/scenic flights. At Mareeba, it is now 98 per cent flight training and about 2 per cent charter/scenic flights.

This has resulted in a better financial return to the Club in terms of flying hours. This was due to the very competitive nature of the tourism industry in Cairns and the high cost (25 per cent of ticket price) paid to booking agents.

The North Queensland Aero Club noted that the increase in airport costs at Cairns Airport happened at roughly the same time as they put their aircraft through the Cessna SIDS program. The Aero Club found that while the initial costs associated with the SIDS inspection was roughly double the annual or 100 hourly maintenance costs (about $3,000 for the annual maintenance and $7,000 for the SIDS inspection), the costs associated with repairing the faults found in the SIDS inspection were high. For one aircraft the costs were $26,000, for some the cost of repairs was too high and the aircraft were written off.

This case study illustrates how GA operations can be put on a more sustainable financial basis by moving to an airport with lower costs, where that is an option.

IMO the above is very relevant in the context of the following email chain which deals with the subject of ‘on-airport aeronautical’ opportunities/businesses in Australia vs the US airport FBO system:

..As far as I know, in the US an FBO is a Fixed Base Operator. This is any business at the airport, but is generally considered to be the company or companies that sell fuel and provide pilot services. It’s not usually a repair facility.

Best regards,



Read FAA AC attached.  It explains the US FBO system



a. Specialized Aviation Service Operations.When specialized aviation service operations (SASOs), sometimes known as single-service providers or special FBOs, apply to do business on an airport, “all” provisions of the published minimum standards may not apply. This is not to say that all SASOs providing the same or similar services should not equally comply with all applicable minimum standards. However, an airport should not, without adequate justification, require that a service provider desiring to provide a single service or less than full service also meet the criteria for a full-service FBO. Examples of these specialized services may include aircraft flying clubs, flight training, aircraft airframe and powerplant repair/maintenance, aircraft charter, air taxi or air ambulance, aircraft sales, avionics, instrument or propeller services, or other specialized commercial flight support businesses.Airport sponsors generally do not allow fuel sales alone as a SASO, but usually require that fuel sales be bundled with other services.

Ken, Shawn et al,

I’m currently looking at options to expand my flight school and aircraft maintenance business here in the U.S.A. I’m finding that FBOs at several nearby regional airports are actively engaging with me to move my business to their airports because the airport operator, usually the county, requires an FBO to provide a range of services other than just the more lucrative fuel sales. Often an airport operator will have a list of the services they expect to have provided and the FBO operator has to provide, for example, 7 of 10 potential services. These services are likely to include fuel sales, flight training, pilot lounge, restaurant, aircraft maintenance, rental cars, pilot briefing facilities, charter services, etc.

In California, the opportunities for fuel sales are huge at some of these regional airports due, in part, to the presence of a Cal Fire base. One FBO operator  that has offered us virtually free rent on office and hangar space sells over $1,000,000.00 of fuel per month during the (now lengthy) fire season. This FBO is struggling to attract a maintenance provider simply because of the industry wide shortage of qualified personnel. I’m having the same problem myself. Right now, I have plenty of work but I can’t get mechanics (LAMEs) to do the work.

The term FBO has a wide range of interpretations and originated during the barnstorming days when the forerunner of the FAA tried to bring some order to the chaos of ad-hoc operations traveling around the country. FBOs are not really regulated, however, the safety related activities they perform are. In my case, I can provide maintenance because I have a Mechanic’s Certificate and an Inspection Authorization. A requirement of the Inspection Authorization is that I have a fixed base of operations at which I may be located in person or by telephone during a normal working week but it need not be the place where I exercise my inspection authority. My flight school is similarly regulated by our instructors being certificated by the FAA. We don’t have an operating certificate although we are in the process of getting a Part 141 certificate as this will give us access to more foreign students and to those students who are being funded by the governement due to their military service. Most GA flight training in the U.S.A. is performed by schools that are not 141 and most GA maintenance is performed by mechanics who don’t work for a part 145 repair station.


Mike and all,

Excellent information, we just have to keep up with the message.

Ballarat GA school has closed this July just gone. The principal was Roger Gration, highly regarded and qualified, I’m told by his offsider that the regulatory regime was a big factor and he’s off to airlines.

The worst of it is that there’s no one to take over, and so another large regional centre misses out on flying training opportunities. Employment is reduced and lack of fuel (avgas) sales together with loss of maintenance business shrinks the whole General Aviation (GA) sector.

Part 61 and the new flying school Parts 141/142 are causing nothing short of disaster for GA.


Sandy et al,

Just wait until 91/131/135 “hits the ground” —- and a lot of the rest of GA with it —— there are some real bombshells buried in that lot, but only limited responses to so called “consultation”, I think most people are just punch drunk, and adopting a completely fatalistic attitude — based on the entirely reasonable assumption that CASA is not really interested in what the aviation community thinks.

As one CASA person who will remain nameless, says: “CASA are the Government appointed safety exerts”. And believe me, this person (or perX in the preferred gender free format) actually believes what they (can’t use he or she) sprout.

Cheers or commiserations,

PS: I hope everybody has read and understood Mike Smith’s piece about US practice, a much reduce regulatory burden than Australia, and a SIGNIFICANTLY better air safety outcome,many of us have said, for years, with the data to back it up, that much of what CASA does is counterproductive, as far as risk management is concerned, that is — safety outcomes.

I have been trying to read and digest Parts 119/121/135 for the last 4 weeks since it opened for consultation and I simply do not have time to do that, contemplate the outcomes, calculate costs of things like TAWS-B fitment, and produce an intelligent response while also operating a small business.

Best regards,


I’m glad I’m not the only one.

I think that the relevant question here is why are we even expected to do this? Why is CASA once again reinventing the wheel?

The FARs are already proven, the kinks have already been worked out and we know that they deliver a good outcome both for safety and for the industry, in a country that’s more similar to Australia than any other country in the world.

Best regards,



And, sadly, you know that none of the new limitations and restrictions have a justified risk management case, let alone cost/benefit justified, and CASA don’t really want you opinions, anyway.

After all, you have a conflict of interest, you are part of the aviation community.

The above was another lulu that I recently heard, the ultimate answer the “waste of resources in consulting industry”.



PS: Have you figured out yet the rigmarole you now have to go through to use an airstrip??


Look closer to home, the NZ CARs (US FARs cleaned up) have been widely adopted by other small nations — and for a very good reason.

Are you aware that Australia paid the cost of installing the NZ rules in Papua NG, becasue the previous Australia rules were judged to be no longer usable, and not ICAO compliant, anyway??



As addressed,

This email thread sums up the true state of play for GA in Australia, the coming final constriction, in plain view, of what was a valuable industry into a minor rump inhabited only by the very rich, the impractical low weight category and those wishing to make a small fortune in aviation by starting with a large one.

Without the unlikely event of a game changing move from Parliament, by way of some MP or MP’s inspiration, most of mainstream General Aviation in this country is doomed, perhaps some ag ops and larger flying schools will hang in there but with rising costs and the competition from the US flying schools the future is bleak. I hate to say this but the logic is inescapable. US flying schools already advertising in Australia, PPLs $7000 in the US versus $20,000 in Oz. Not the whole story but we will lose.

Sorry my country.


Oh but Sandy according to Carmody’s deputy dog all is good in the Oz flight training world:

Deputy dog spruiks the bollocks on Part141/142 transition

Meanwhile the nation’s deputy dog continues to bury his head in the sand on anything remotely related to aviation and in particular the General Aviation sector:

McDo’Naut does naut on airports vs airlines war


McDo’Naut does naut on Wagga Summit resolutions

Although it was a bit like being hit with a wet lettuce, reviewing the ICAO audit summary for the Australian October 2017 audit – – it is interesting to note how many of the ‘high priority’ suggestions…

the overall results outlined in Figures 1 and 2, the information below has been developed to assist the State in prioritizing its remedial actions.

…for remedial actions both match the bureaucratic glossed over findings within the BITRE GA report – – and knock on effect/major concerns of the GA sector stakeholders.

It is interesting to note the following from the BITRE report:

…Several of the ten elements of the outstanding safety regulatory reform program – notably CASR
Parts 103 and 105 (relating to sport aviation) and CASR Part 138 (aerial work) directly relate to

There is also clearly a need for Government agencies and the GA sector to get together to work on
establishing a means of collecting comprehensive data on GA, including the sector’s economic
contribution, to better inform future policy and regulatory development.

While there are clearly challenges ahead, there are many opportunities for the industry and
Government to respond to these challenges including:

 fleet renewal and use of engines with fuel requirements other than avgas;
 targeted measures for enhanced training and retention of pilots and maintenance staff;
CASA to pursue opportunities for harmonization of regulations or mutual recognition of
Australian aviation industry services and products by other countries to enhance export
opportunities for GA.

 examination of aviation safety regulatory fees including a review of the number of hourly
rates used by CASA relative to the number of fixed fees and possible removal/reduction of
certain fees for GA;
 better engagement between airport and aircraft operators on future airport planning and
development; and
 harnessing the benefits of potential multiple commercial applications of RPAS, noting that
increased integration of RPAS will only occur where safety standards are maintained.

Then consider the response from the Dept 2 days ago in the Oz Flying update. Plus the fact that to this date there would appear to be no CAP (corrective action plan), by the dept and govt agencies, to any of the so called ‘high priority’ identified ICAO audit safety issues. This is despite the fact ICAO clearly states the CAP should be completed within 45 days of the State receiving the audit report findings:

5.1 In accordance with the MOU agreed to between Australia and ICAO, Australia replied in a letter dated 23 February 2018 that it had no comments on the draft report and also reiterated its commitment to develop its CAPs accordingly.
5.2 According to the MOU, the State undertakes to submit its updated CAPs directly on the USOAP CMA online framework ( within 45 days after receipt of this final report.
5.3 The CAPs should provide specific actions and estimated implementation dates, as well as a responsible office for taking action to correct the deficiencies identified in the findings. Further guidance on how to develop effective CAPs is outlined in the “Guidance for States on Developing Corrective Action Plans (CAPs)”, which can be found in the “CMA Library” of the online framework.
5.4 ICAO will provide Australia with feedback on the acceptability of the proposed updated CAPs. If any proposed corrective actions do not fully address the associated findings, the State will be notified accordingly.
5.5 If no CAP is submitted, ICAO will contact Australia to determine the reasons for not providing a CAP and report its findings to Council.

Couple that with the fact that except for the RRAT Senate Committee Secretariat and Aunty Pru, there would appear to be no ministerial, industry or media acknowledgement/coverage of the ICAO audit report, let alone exposure of some of the more disturbing findings (like those under Annex 14 ie Airports).

Essendon Airport disaster: DFO plane crash interim report

Tacitus, Titanic and Tactics. | : Home of PAIN :

Of course this is exactly what the Iron ring and the aviation safety bureaucracy rely – ie “nothing to see here move along”.


..Just had a call from a guy I know in CASA who is in middle management. He said everyone from his level down knows about the problems with industry, but above that there is firm denial and an attitude prevails of ‘its industry’s problem’. Worse still is that he managed to be present when someone in the ‘Iron Ring’ started publicly bragging about recent events, and afterwards he was so upset by what he heard that he decided to give me a call…

…This member of the Iron Ring said that they were very pleased that they had convinced the minister to do nothing re reg reform and that all the noise is just industry complaining and that they had ‘beat GA’. This person then also bragged that the last DAS to try any reform was quickly punted by the Board, as this guy and his mates ‘had the Board on a string’. 

My friend said that these guys had designed the current system and knew it better than anyone, so that the more complicated they made it, the more indispensable these people became and this made it harder for anyone to move them on. Further, any reform would show how badly they had done their job and make them accountable, and hence put their jobs and their superannuation in real jeopardy. My friend said that because all the members of this Iron Ring retire in about 5 years, they will firmly prevent the boat from being rocked until then.

My mate is so disheartened that he is now had enough and is actively trying to quit CASA, as he can’t take this crap anymore. Unfortunately for CASA this guy is sharp and has very respectable industry experience, and he knows what he’s doing...

IMHO until such time as the Act is changed and the entrenched culture of the ‘law unto themselves’ CASA Iron ring is exposed and expunged, then the industry will continue to be red tape embuggered, divided & conquered; and on the slippery slope to economic ruin.

Finally from the AP forum in recent days:

KL’s MOT releases full MH370 ACARS comms log?


WTD? – The bollocks Ballina investigationAO-2017-097


CASA double standards in oversight surveillance?

And from the AP forum today, a good news story:

Top stuff Wellsy –  Wink

Via the Oz today:

Local flight school inks Asia deal
[Image: d8a00f93ffd9fe0bce0a7939467aff64]MATTHEW DENHOLM
About 75 Malaysian pilots will be trained in Tasmania each year under a deal between the state’s regional airline and Air Asia.

Local flight school in deal to train 75 Air Asia pilots

About 75 Malaysian pilots will be trained in Tasmania each year under a landmark deal between the state’s regional airline and Air Asia.

The managing director of Hobart-based Par Avion, Shannon Wells, told The Australian the deal showed that Australian flight schools could play a role in addressing the global pilot shortage…

Last but not least an update to the airline v airport bunfight:

McDo’Naut does naut on airports vs airlines war – Part II

Via the Oz today:

Airports earn too much: airlines
[Image: 40d408b467edf5cefb2954ebbdba62dd]ROBYN IRONSIDE
Australia’s major airlines say airports have become too profitable since privatisation due to the light-handed monitoring regime.

Australia’s airports have become too profitable since deregulation: airlines

Australia’s major airlines say airports have become too profitable since privatisation as a result of light-handed monitoring, and more regulation would provide significant cost benefits for consumers.

In a detailed submission to the Productivity Commission inquiry into economic regulation of airports, Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ), representing Qantas, Virgin Australia, Regional Express and Air New Zealand, said the existing regulatory system was “powerless to curtail the mono­poly power of airports”.


MTF – P2. :mrgreen: