Tuesday, February 14, 2012

February RA-Aus Board Meeting

RA-Aus February Board Meeting

Below is an update for members of the recent meeting. In due course the President will release an official synopsis of the meeting.

Aerosafe Workshop. Those of us that were able went to Canberra two days early to attend Aerosafe training on Risk Management. The workshop was very well done and we all learnt a lot. We saw where our strengths were, and also where we had weaknesses. This is important to know, as we can now direct resources to areas where we are lacking.

Tec. Manager Resignation. Most are aware by now of Steve Bells resignation. I attended his farewell dinner and personally wish Steve well in his new endeavors. One stand out quality of Steve was his willingness to do his best to help our members achieve their goals and not put unnecessary obstacles in their path. At Oshkosh recently, I well remember the “implied” mission statement US aviators had of their Regulator. - “We are not happy until you are not happy”. Steve was the total opposite, he was not happy until our members were happy.

We have a very able temporary acting Tec manager, so things can carry on as normal until we appoint a permanent replacement.

The Board meeting itself. – Some of the more important issues follow.

Junior pilots. – Well what a can of worms this turned out to be after legal advice. CASA and all the other countries in the western world have no minimum age requirements to commence flying training, however they all have a minimum age for the issue of an official student pilot certificate. We didn’t. So it was theoretically possible to have an official student pilot who was only one year old. We did have a couple that were only nine. This had to be fixed and the minimum age for a Student Pilot Certificate is now set at fourteen years. This placed us in line with the requirements of other major recreational aviation countries.

But that was not the end of it. From our legal advice on that matter we came up with another serious problem. Our constitution is apparently at odds with the ACT regulations (where we are incorporated) Under the act members of an Association under 18 must not have voting rights. We have no such membership category in our Constitution and this must be fixed ASAP.

Magazine hold back. Many members have complained to me over the years that our magazine is available in the newsagent before they get their copy in the post. My belief is members are more important than walk-ins at a newsagent and we should hold back delivery of the magazine to the newsagents by one week to allow our members to get their copy first. Again I proposed a motion to this affect, but this time I made the hold back time 5 days instead of 7 days. The motion was again lost.

Pre purchase inspections. Some years ago the Board brought in a requirement for pre purchase inspections to be conducted by a level 2. This created a legal issue with our Level 2 maintenance providers. The inspections were always meant to be a “condition report”, not a statement that the aircraft was fit to fly. There was a lot of uncertainty here. This also was against our policy of not being more onerous than GA. (GA do not require inspections) This requirement is now removed. It now comes back to the GA system of “Buyer beware”. By all means get pre purchase inspections done, but now you can use whomever you choose.

Flight over built up areas. You all must be aware that flight over built up areas in 19 category aircraft is forbidden unless individual written permission is given. This will only be given to aircraft that meet certain requirements, one is having an approved engine. Permission can only given by an approved CASA delegate. This delegation approval ceased with the departure of Steve Bell. For the immediate future there will be no more approvals given.

Of a more serious nature, there is a push by some working for the regulator, (under the new part 61) which will ban all single engine flights over built up areas. GA, commercial, and RA-Aus. We all must be vigilant here.

Remember if you do have approval to fly over built up areas, that is just the start. There are the other requirements that must be followed, such as flight above 1,000 feet AGL, and the ability to glide clear should there be an engine failure.

Recreational Pilot’s License.  This is progressing under Part 61, and is viewed as a threat by many in RA-Aus, however, philosophically; I personally don’t believe we should seek to be a monopoly in Rec Aviation and campaign against an RPL. We should look for opportunities here instead. Sure it will affect us in the short term, but it will make us work harder, and provide more and better benefits to retain current members and gain new members. (As a side note we now have almost 11,000 members and 3,500 registered aircraft on our books.

Web site development. Our last contract to do this turned out to be unsatisfactory. We have now contracted another firm to upgrade our web site, so hopefully in the near future you will see some positive changes.

Accident Investigation. It has been my opinion that we should strive to get our accident investigators back under the wing of ATSB (where we were some years ago before the new regulations) I and another  Board member had some very positive discussion with the director of ATSB on this matter. If certain requirements are met this could become achievable. On going discussions will now be held with ATSB. This won't happen overnight, but we have started the process.

2012 AGM. To enable our members greater opportunity to attend our AGM’s the Board resolved to occasionally hold these outside Canberra. Now I know many of you wish these to be held at Natfly, but currently we have legal issues with this because of our Constitution and financial timeframes. There is also a significant extra cost involved. But in time with enough member support these issues can be overcome. 

The 2012 AGM will be held in Southern Queensland, most probably the Gold coast on Saturday September 22. Please put this date in your diary and attend if at all possible. It is your association.

John McKeown
South Queensland Board Member