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Joining sport and recreational aviation

Learning to fly: RA-Aus organisation, facilities and clubs

Rev. 13 — page content was last changed 10 December 2014
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The RA-Aus flight training organisation
The RA-Aus Operations Manager is responsible to the Chief Executive Officer, the member-elected RA-Aus Board, and the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, for the maintenance of a continued high level of safe training practices and methods, general flying and safety standards and pilot competency throughout RA-Aus. There may be Assistant Operations Managers taking some of the load for a particular area.

To implement these duties and responsibilities, the Operations Manager approves and initially appoints suitably qualified Chief Flying Instructors [CFIs] as Pilot Examiners [PEs], who then undertake that responsibility for maintaining the high level of ultralight training practice and the general flying standards usually within a particular region. Pilot Examiners carry out the following routine tasks:
  • conduct ground and flight examinations for issue or renewal of Senior Instructor and Instructor ratings
  • conduct ground and flight examinations for issue or renewal of Chief Flying Instructor approvals or Pilot Examiner Certificates
  • conduct training and refresher courses for CFIs and PEs, or candidates for those appointments
  • and monitor, on request from the Operations Manager, the training standards and practices of specified flight training facilities [FTFs].
If approved by the Operations Manager, a PE (and a CFI or Senior Instructor) may also conduct ground and flight training courses for instructor rating candidates.

Regional Operations Coordinators [ROCs] are also appointed to assist the Operations Manager. An ROC has all the duties and responsibilities of a Pilot Examiner and additional responsibilities, which are specified in section 1.04 of the RA-Aus Operations Manual issue 7. See the listing of ROCs (PDF document).

Lee Ungermann and his LightWing taking off from Paul Middleton's home paddock

Lee Ungermann, then RA-Aus Operations Manager, lifting off from former CEO Paul Middleton's Dog Plain International.
The aircraft is Lee's Australian LightWing.               (photo - Paul Middleton)

RA-Aus flight training facilities [FTFs]. There are about 180 approved FTFs currently operating at about 200 locations throughout Australia; all have a minimum training capability up to and including the cross country, passenger and radio endorsements. See the flight training facility location list with telephone contacts. There are other trike schools approved by the Hang Gliding Federation of Australia.

Flight training personnel. There are around 300 members whose Pilot Certificate is endorsed with a currently valid senior instructor rating. Abot 60% of the senior instructors also hold an RA-Aus document of approval to act as the Chief Flying Instructor [CFI] of a particular FTF or FTFs, thereby being held responsible for the operation, administration and control of the nominated FTFs.

Note: in USA aviation the 'CFI' initialism is the shortened form of 'Certificated Flight Instructor' or 'Certified Flight Instructor' and describes every flight instructor rather than the senior instructor responsible for flight operations, administration and control at a particular flight school.

Various document listings of the personnel associated with flight training are also available. The following provide names and contact means by location.
      •   Senior Instructors with current Chief Flying Instructor role.
      •   Other Senior Instructors
      •   Instructors

The clubs associated with RA-Aus members
About 35% of members belong to one, or more, of the 100 or so RA-Aus recreational aviation members clubs. The primary role of those clubs is to provide the social and competitive impetus for the development of recreational and sport aviation, and of their pilots. A second, but very important, role is supportive — the training, nurturing and care of less experienced pilots. Unlike the Gliding Federation of Australia clubs, the RA-Aus member clubs have no authoritative role in the administration of recreational aviation.

Some RA-Aus flight training facilities have an associated club — or a close association with a co-located club. The clubs usually provide a range of services to members, from advice and assistance in all aspects of flying and owning a recreational and sport aircraft, to hangarage and perhaps hiring of club owned aircraft — for both training and pleasure. About 50% of the clubs are themselves 'affiliated members' of the RA-Aus. Generally most club members would also be RA-Aus members.

Some RA-Aus clubs tend to specialise in a particular category of aircraft, i.e. 3-axis aeroplanes, weight-shift control trikes or powered parachutes. Conversely, others include a wider range of interests, including general aviation aircraft and pilots. Other clubs may focus on particular interests, for example, constructing aircraft from commercial kits.

Clubs may provide on-site accommodation for non-local members, varying from individual rooms, or bunkhouse, to caravan or camping. Membership may entail a small joining fee and an annual fee. Some clubs may offer family membership to cover the non-flying family members. Social activities might include regular fly-ins, flyaways and handicap flying competitions. The hangar barbecue tends to be a regular monthly event at which visitors — and potential members — are always welcome.

See the RA-Aus website for their list of affiliated clubs and contact information.

The next module in this 'Joining sport and recreational aviation' series documents a students viewpoint of the learning to fly process.

This 'Joining sport and recreational aviation' series

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