Government launches major study into GA sector

The federal government has launched what it termed a major study into the general aviation (GA) sector in response to the concerns expressed by industry.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) would conduct the study, with representatives from industry invited to participate.

“I am keen to remove barriers to growth in this vital part of the aviation industry including reducing costs and regulatory burden,” Chester said in a statement on Friday.

“General aviation has a rich history in Australia and I’m confident it can have a prosperous future. This study will help get the public policy right to support growth in the sector.”

The announcement of a major study into general aviation comes after the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia (AOPA) presented a nine-point plan to the government in April aimed to turn around a GA sector that was slowly dying and “collapsing under the weight of regulation”.

Part of AOPA’s proposed reforms included changes to the Civil Aviation Act that require regulators to take into account “industry viability, efficiency and sustainability”, and for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to be renamed the Civil Aviation Authority and be absorbed back into the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development.

There were also calls to enforce rules that provided security of tenure for aviation businesses at airports, for the adoption of a US-style suite of regulatory rules to replace the current Civil Aviation Orders and Regulations, for the reintroduction of TAFE funding to boost aviation apprenticeships and the harmonisation of medical certification for recreational and GA private pilots for all recreational aviation aircraft (those weighing less than 5,700kg).

“AOPA is making what to us is seen as a last stand against inappropriate government industry regulation that has decimated our once thriving GA industry,” AOPA Australia president Marc De Stoop said at the time.

“It may sound melodramatic to those not associated with the industry, but those of us who have been in the industry through the period 1960-1990 feel very frustrated that government bureaucrats, through lack of understanding of the need for businesses to be commercially viable, have failed this industry.”

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester. (Minister's Office)
Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester. (Minister’s Office)

Chester said the study was part of the government’s response to proposals from AOPA and The Australian Aviation Associations Forum (TAAAF).

“As part of the response, I can confirm that CASA will be undertaking a review of the private pilot medical requirements – an area that I know has been a key issue for the GA sector,” Chester said.

“The BITRE study will cover a range of issues, including assessing the key drivers and influences on the sector.

“I will be requesting that the General Aviation Action Group, which was formerly a sub-group of the Aviation Industry Consultative Council (AICC), report directly to me in future.”

The study was expected to be completed by June 30 2017.

The terms of reference of the study are:

  • define the scope, and provide an overview of, the GA industry;
  • profile significant sectors of the GA industry, including case studies of particular GA businesses;
  • examine trends in GA activity over the past decade including amongst different types of GA operations;
  • identify the key economic, demographic and regulatory factors behind these trends;
  • undertake a comparison of the Australian GA industry with comparable aviation nations (e.g. USA, Canada, NZ);
  • outline the key challenges facing the GA industry; and
  • outline opportunities for the GA industry and Government to respond to these challenges.

Source: Department of Infrastructure website.

Comments

  1. Ben says

    This is welcome news, but I worry that it will be overtaken by simplistic CASA-bashing. We know that GA is bloody expensive compared to even ten years ago, and while safety regulation is one reason for this it is far from the only one. By focusing on just CASA we risk ignoring the other economic factors, making this whole process a waste of time.