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An appeal for restraint in governing bodies posts


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There has been much recent recreationalflying.com forum activity (from perhaps less than 0.5% of RA-Aus membership) that, if continued, will be detrimental to the RA-Aus board members in executing their prime task and may, in fact, make their task increasingly difficult to accomplish; and thus detrimental to all RA-Aus members.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOARD STATUS

 

Currently the RA-Aus board has only 11 members, four of whom will retire at the September AGM and the four members-elect will take their place. The NSW by-election on September 9 will add another new board member and the following NT by-election will most likely add another new member, returning the board to the normal 13-member status. However the level of experience contained within the new board will be far short of normal.

 

Consider this:

 

By October the board will consist of six first-time members; two members (John and Steve) with less than five years under their belts; two members (Nick and Miles) with five or six years and the three long-termers (Paul, Rod and Eugene) with a wealth of experience between them. Paul, of course, had been Operations Manager and CEO for a long period before his election to the board. Rod has also had a spell as Operations Manager in the early '90s and also as board president and I seem to recall he was in the National Flying Coach role before Tony Witlox. Eugene is the longest serving board member and, at around 8 years, also the longest serving President. I think Eugene opened the first legal AUF flying school about 1986 at Sandfly, so he is probably one of the most experienced members of the association.

 

On top of that, I believe there is a possibility that one of those long-term board members might stand down to take on another role, necessitating a third by-election this year. In that event the new, inexperienced members will be in the majority. I guess, it will take at least 12-18 months before the six or seven new members have absorbed sufficient knowledge about RA-Aus board activities, their relationships with the association's employees, CASA's requirements for governance and performance standards, relationships with other sport and recreational aviation organisation's, the threats facing RA-Aus, etc, etc, to settle into the task.

 

This is in addition to the normal knowledge every director of every association must absorb about ethics, board operations, confidentiality, fiduciary duties, responsibilities to association membership and so on.

 

All of this means that the board will have severe resource and experience difficulties just at the time that the CASA's Self Administrating Organisations Section is requiring, and expecting, demonstrated progress in the current RA-Aus Deed of Agreement schedule, in order to maintain their confidence in RA-Aus governance and performance standards.

 

WHAT'S THE BOARD MEMBERS' TASK?

 

Basically, it is to ensure that (1) the association continues to exist and (2) that current and future ordinary members are able to satisfy these prime needs:

 

1. To learn to fly at a reasonably convenient location and at reasonable cost to qualify for a sport and recreational aviation Pilot Certificate, rather than the more costly Pilot Licence or perhaps the proposed Recreational Pilot Licence, both of which must be gained at a flight school having a CASA Air Operator Certificate.

 

2. To have a reasonable range of choice in the procurement of relatively low-cost, new/used, day VFR, very light aircraft or aircraft kits; or the ability to scratch-build their own, or other's, experimental design without the need for a Certificate of Airworthiness before registration.

 

3. To register such aircraft with an authority that allows owner maintenance.

 

STAFF-ASSOCIATED PRESSURES ON THE BOARD MEMBERS

 

The recent resignations of Lee Ungermann, Mick Poole and Julie Roll has reduced the number of senior experienced staff by 60%. Recent losses of experienced secondary level staff (e.g. Lani) adds more pressure to the organisation. The loss of knowledge of even small things (that people not involved would regard as superfluous) is time consuming and very annoying to the remaining staff. Also the present CEO did not apply for his position, he was requested to assume the responsibility. He has no reason for loyalty to the association in difficult times, particularly so when querulous remarks about excessive salary were bandied about in these forums. It would be no surprise if Steve got fed up and opted to return to his semi-retired lifestyle. History indicates that suitable CEOs are difficult to attract to RA-Aus.

 

The knowledge that all the recent resignees went to much better paid positions and a better working environment (and that RA-Aus has not had the financial wherewithal to retain staff or establish a functioning successor development plan) places a lot of pressure on the board, and eventually the ordinary members.

 

FUTURE MEMBERSHIP LEVELS

 

During 2005, 2006 and 2007 the ordinary membership increased by an average of 830 persons (13% p.a.) each year. During 2008 the increase was 8% (640 persons) and 2009 was 9.5% (798 persons). During 2010 the increase dropped to 460 persons (5%) so the annual rate of membership increase peaked in 2006 at 16% and has been dropping since then.

 

The intake of new members appears to have been reasonably consistent during the last five years, around 1100-1300 per year but, during the same period, the number of ordinary members not renewing membership has been increasing, reaching about 640 (or 7% member turnover) in 2010. A high and increasing member turnover perhaps coupled with poor first year retention, is not a good sign.

 

And remember that, under CASR Part 103, CASA is required to implement the 'parallel path principle' for those who choose not to join RA-Aus or any other RAAO. The Recreational Pilot Licence (which will probably have a medical requirement standard8 equivalent to that required for issue of a commercial vehicle driver licence) could also be available when CASR Parts 103 and 149 are promulgated; so there are future possibilities for considerable change in the structure of sport and recreational aviation. The total membership figure may start to decrease soon, which will be a problem for both the organisation's financing and the flight training facilities.

 

(* If you are interested I have placed a copy of the GP's guide to 'Assessing fitness to drive' for private and commercial vehicle drivers at http://www.recreationalflying.com/tutorials/students/AFTDrive.pdf )

 

CASA PRESSURES ON THE BOARD MEMBERS

 

In March 2011 the Director of Aviation Safety [John McCormick] announced that CASA had set up a new Self-Administering Sport Aviation Organisations section in the Office of the Director of Aviation Safety and that CASA's recreational and sport aviation regulatory functions have been moved from the Standards Division to the Office of the Director of Aviation Safety, reporting to the Associate Director of Aviation Safety.

 

The recent recruiting drive by CASA for staff for the Self-Administering Sport Aviation Organisations section shows that the top level of CASA believes in and supports sport and recreational aviation but is determined to assure their confidence in the board's governance and the performance standards of RA-Aus (and the other RAAOs of course), in accordance with the current RA-Aus/CASA Deed of Agreement.

 

[There is a pdf copy of the 'Sport Aviation Self-administration Handbook' in the tutorials section http://www.recreationalflying.com/tutorials/regulations/CASA-sport_aviation_selfadmin_hdbk.pdf ]

 

Lee Ungerman left RA-Aus to join the Self-Administrating Sport Aviation Organisations section (probably as a team leader) and, from CASA's point of view, there is no doubt that he is a very good choice as point man in establishing the confidence, or otherwise, of the CASA management, in the governance and performance standards of RA-Aus.

 

The following is an 18 August 2011 advertisement for Sport Aviation Safety Assurance Officers initiated by Lee Ungermann (note the salary range for an officer reporting to Lee):

 

Sport Aviation Safety Assurance Officer

 

Permanent role

 

Brisbane or Canberra location

 

$86,783 - $112,456 + 15% superannuation

 

Office of the Director of Aviation Safety

 

 

Duties:

 

The Sport Aviation Safety Assurance Officer will assist the Team Leader Self Administrating Organisations Section in overseeing the Recreational Aviation Administration Organisations by conducting audits of safety assurance systems to ensure that risk is contained to an acceptable level and thus providing a safe environment for participants as well as other airspace users and the general public.

 

The Sport Aviation Safety Assurance Officer is also responsible for developing policy, implementing strategies and managing the Deed of Agreement structure in accordance with government requirements for the oversight of the Recreational Aviation Administration Organisations.

 

 

Experience/qualifications:

 

 

To be successful in this role, you will have excellent working knowledge of Australian legislation in relation to sport aviation as well as a solid understanding and experience in risk management principals

 

For further information about this role, please contact Lee Ungermann on 131 757.

 

Do not kid yourself that RA-Aus is fireproof. The recent action against Tiger Airlines demonstrates that CASA is now quite prepared to suspend any organisation in which it loses confidence, no matter what the travelling public or the politicians might think.

 

If CASA suspended RA-Aus because it had no confidence in the board's governance and the performance standards, then ALL RA-Aus registered aircraft would have to remain on the ground during the period of suspension or face severe penalty. The suspension period should not be thought of as just a punishment period, it would continue until the Office of the Director of Aviation Safety is reassured that RA-Aus does meet the performance standards and schedule specified as part of the Deed of Agreement.

 

Would YOU, as an RA-Aus ordinary member, be happy with that? I guess not; so instead of trying to tell the board members how to do the task (often anonymously and without quoting your RA-Aus membership number) and demanding answers forthwith, would you please ask yourself:

 

"How can I assist my association in ensuring that the Office of the Director of Aviation Safety's confidence in us is greatly improved?"

 

To paraphrase JFK; "And so, my fellow members: ask not what your board can do for you - ask what you can do for your board".

 

John Brandon

 

 

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If CASA suspended RA-Aus because it had no confidence in the board's governance and the performance standards, then ALL RA-Aus registered aircraft would have to remain on the ground during the period of suspension or face severe penalty. The suspension period should not be thought of as just a punishment period, it would continue until the Office of the Director of Aviation Safety is reassured that RA-Aus does meet the performance standards and schedule specified as part of the Deed of Agreement.

Well John that is exactly why we have been taking action at the ball box to improve the effectiveness of the board of managemnent.

 

 

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Justice Macken (of NSW) said, when critically referring to an altogether different Board (the MSB actually) that according to the dictionary a board is an inflexible plank.

 

The message that can be taken from this, is that Boards should indeed be flexible, even nimble, to deal with emerging issues and, at the same time keep CASA and the RA-AUS members happy.

 

It will be a formidable task. I wish the board members well.

 

 

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Thank you John. Its good to have a well-presented explanation of the board's roles. Many members may be surprised at the tedious but essential work our board does to ensure our freedoms. Hopefully our new reps can form a team to work harmoniously for the future of our fine organisation. I'm sure members appreciate the enormous and unrewarded efforts of our leaders.

 

Lyle

 

 

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The thing is John...all the improprieties have been going on for years...but because of closed doors and not being in the age of the internet and technology, it never got out. I was able to see this the minute I got on the board, and they were going to delete many of the records in the board forum to stop me from finding out, but I was able to look back and saw what had been going on...had I never got on to the board we, the members, would not have known...the question is, do we just accept it, pay our money and accept it OR as you say, ask what you can do for your board by helping to ensure it operates with integrity and professionalism that is suited to an enterprise of 10,000 stakeholders, more training centres then GA and even more aircraft then the country of New Zealand. If a part of that to begin the next phase of growth is to stop the decline in membership by displaying to the Australian aviation community that the RAAus is well run, with highly disciplined specialists, professionally managed and a great Association to belong to then isn't that "Doing what we can to help our Association?"

 

We have seen in the past a suicide, we have seen Tony Hayes rip up his RAAus Instructors Cert in disgust after being on the board and we have recently seen nasty vicious emails being sent to other board members and the enforced resignations of board members...perhaps the only thing that has changed now is it gets heard about much more so this means that they need to be better then they have ever been before to ensure it all stops.

 

For the last 7 years that I have had this site going for the recreational aviation community for the first five years I have offered this site to work in with the board and the Association on many occasions and in fact on two occasions, I have even offered the site to them lock, stock and barrel, however every time I offered something to help, it was declined. I remember a short meeting at NatFly, 3 years ago when I sat down for a short meeting with John Gardon, David Caban and Lee Ungermann to use this site in any way that would assist the RAAus...but again it was declined. Again just the other day I offered the opportunity this time for the RAAus and this site to perhaps at least enter into a MOU between the RAAus and Recreational Flying...no doubt again that offer won't be seized on by the RAAus. It is a pity as so much good could become of it and as you and I have often discussed and agreed on, the RAAus should be policy makers and administrators and this site could become the social aspects of the RAAus...you even raised that in one of your emails to the board, which was also ignored.

 

The electronic age is here and if it isn't here on this site it will be by many other forms of communications that can't be controlled by the board simply because people don't want to be controlled that way and they will very quickly see through it and the dirt, hearsay, innuendo etc will always be there floating around web sites, mobile phones, social network sites etc etc etc. The only solution that I believe to stop this from happening is to NOT start it in the first place...be honest and be seen to be honest, have integrity and be seen as having integrity, be open to the members and be seen to be open to their members etc etc etc...that will fix it!

 

 

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Thank you John. Its good to have a well-presented explanation of the board's roles. Many members may be surprised at the tedious but essential work our board does to ensure our freedoms. Hopefully our new reps can form a team to work harmoniously for the future of our fine organisation. I'm sure members appreciate the enormous and unrewarded efforts of our leaders.Lyle

Hear hear Lyle, with the exception of the last sentence. I'm not sure that all our members appreciate the enormous and unrewarded efforts of our leaders. Not because it isn't deserved, but because I don't think the majority knows what's going on behind the scenes. I, as an example, didn't have a clue how much effort has and is being put into our association until you and I had dinner with the people we met down at Temora last Easter. What an eye opener that was for me. But how do we get the message out to the majority? They can't take everyone to dinner.

 

Keep the sunny side up,

 

Wayne.

 

 

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Well John that is exactly why we have been taking action at the ball box to improve the effectiveness of the board of managemnent.

Turbo and others. I think you may be missing my point in my plea for restraint (not cessation). The election is over and the NSW by-election will be decided next week, after a long lead-up debate in these forums. I believe that debate was very helpful to the candidates and to the electorate (though it did not induce the voting numbers hoped for), so the forum discussions have served a very useful purpose.

 

I am quite sure that the members-elect are quite familiar with those discussions and we should not now presume to tell our new representatives what to do, or question them about how they intend to go about the rather daunting task that lies before them.

 

They will learn about the previously undisclosed problems that beset the board, learn their task, learn to work cooperatively with the older, long time members so that knowledge is passed along, while seeking to reshape the old principles that have hamstrung the board and annoyed the ordinary membership for so long. I am sure there will be progress reports posted in the forums along the way.

 

And, of course, the board executive members must be decided by the board members at the next meeting, not at these forums.

 

Let all the board members get on with their task, without unnecessary distractions and let us try to help where we can.

 

I wish the members-elect, the forthcoming new members from the by-elections, and the existing board members every success in a very daunting, time-consuming task. It will not be easy to re-focus the board and what we don't need is another non-cohesive board.

 

Ssomething was said about the "high death rate of members" in one reply. The attrition I was referring to is the high rate of non-renewals by relatively new members and probably the younger ones at that, much of which may be caused by the realisation that their dream of owning and operating an aeroplane was unrealistic. Unfortunately we are no longer an ultralight association.

 

John Brandon

 

 

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"we are no longer an ultralight assosiation"..........sorry john....we are!

I wish it were so cfi... My instructor won't get in one and its my impression that he is very much in the majority. Fortunately the school owner up here (Instructing under the CFI who was my instructor) is keen and took me Thruster flying for a few hours because that is the financial level of where my aircraft ownership dreams are.

 

Sadly it does seem that most people up here, if forming a syndicate, would be looking at $100k aircraft rather than the $25k ones. I would be please as punch to get a syndicate going for a nice economical Thruster or such... but there is not a lot of interest from what I see.

 

 

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Re post #12

 

I agree with you David and you're pretty much echoing what Tony Hayes was predicting just prior to his demise (such a loss). The Guru reckoned 'rag & tube' component of recreational flying would ultimately either get nudged out of the mainstream of RAA participation like a red-headed-stepchild or would withdraw of our own accord into a semi clandestine sub movement. Despite my post-election high anticipation/expectations of the 'new wave' of member representation in Canberra, I seriously doubt that the diminishing inventory of early ultralights will command much attention in future RAA deliberations. Let's face facts, the ratio of plastic fantastics to hills clothes hoists is very much one-sided (and that's not bad) so logically the largest component will require and receive the largest resources. Methinks this picture has been subtely illustrated by both the number of rag & tube aircraft not featuring in any of the RAA calenders over the past five years and the number of 'info-mercials' & 'for sale' ads for top end aircraft in our monthly magazine. Weight increases, altitude increases, controlled airspace access, +$100K boys-toys? I guess great for some but it all adds up to a phasing out of 'low & slow' machines. Don't like it and don't want it but can't change it so will anticipate the morphing of RAA into a style of de-facto GA and just stay in the bush as you suggest. My off-thread rant is over - I'm back under my rock.

 

 

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Hold on guys, don't lose your socks.

 

John Brandon is way out of touch with the info-centric electronic age, so don't let him spook you.

 

This Association does provide a framework for rag and tube, so don't be undermined into panic.

 

They are equal to any other type of aircraft.

 

Have a think about what Winsor said - how many of you can afford to sustain 20 or 30 years of the cost per hour of a plastic fantastic?

 

What is developing is a realisation that while these machines will cruise at 100 kts, engine reliability can be a massive blow to the budget, and the long distance cruising which is routine in GA, is not as prevalent as we all first expected.

 

 

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So if we are no longer an Ultralight Association, maybe we should reform a new Ultralight Association specific to the 95-10 and the old 95-25 category and go fly in our favourite rural areas and leave those who only want to fly plastic fantastics to fly them ....031_loopy.gif.e6c12871a67563904dadc7a0d20945bf.gif:baldy:insane.gif.b56be3c4390e84bce5e5e6bf4f69a458.gif077_smash_pc.gif.f5903d27a57d2bd4c7b9e20e21a3465c.gif068_angry.gif.cc43c1d4bb0cee77bfbafb87fd434239.gifDavid

PFFT! David.

 

PFFT = Plastic Fantastic Flying Troupe.

 

 

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Guest Andys@coffs

Hi John

 

In your original post you state "......will be detrimental to the RA-Aus board members in executing their prime task and may, in fact, make their task increasingly difficult to accomplish; and thus detrimental to all RA-Aus members.

 

"

 

Can you give any examples of the damage that you see being done? You also make the point restraint, not ceasation, what do you mean by that? what exactly would you want to be restrained what elements of what has been posted is in your opinion a step too far and why?

 

I think for myself I udnerstand what those things are but I wonder if you could spare a few moments leting us understand your point of view. Once I understand it then I may be able to comment?

 

Your original post contained much that was useful to read, but for those that want black and white and no grey in an answer, I dont believe you provided that

 

Andy

 

 

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Guest Andys@coffs
Come on fellas, I love my jab, I love my jab, I love my jab, etc. I also loved my gazelle, loved my gazelle, etc.cazza

Agree with you Cazza, I have trike and Jab, it wasnt a case of thank god Ive moved up from the trike..just that ADL to Narromine and then Grafton in a trike wasnt something I ever contemplated but is something I did regularly in the 230. Both are fantastic fun at what they do, which is different. The trike is currently dead due siezed 582 but when I win lotto or find a few dollars extra I intend to replace teh 582 and fly it again.

It strikes me that a comon approach an adversary might pursue is to divide and conquer, why do that when with a bit of hand waving we'll do it ourself? We seen to almost have more flying bodies that actual bodies that fly in AU

 

Andy

 

 

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Agree with you Cazza, I have trike and Jab, it wasnt a case of thank god Ive moved up from the trike..just that ADL to Narromine and then Grafton in a trike wasnt something I ever contemplated but is something I did regularly in the 230. Both are fantastic fun at what they do, which is different. The trike is currently dead due siezed 582 but when I win lotto or find a few dollars extra I intend to replace teh 582 and fly it again.It strikes me that a comon approach an adversary might pursue is to divide and conquer, why do that when with a bit of hand waving we'll do it ourself? We seen to almost have more flying bodies that actual bodies that fly in AU

 

Andy

Off topic, but what caused the 582 to seize Andy?

Pud

 

 

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So if we are no longer an Ultralight Association, maybe we should reform a new Ultralight Association specific to the 95-10 and the old 95-25 category and go fly in our favourite rural areas and leave those who only want to fly plastic fantastics to fly them ....031_loopy.gif.e6c12871a67563904dadc7a0d20945bf.gif:baldy:insane.gif.b56be3c4390e84bce5e5e6bf4f69a458.gif077_smash_pc.gif.f5903d27a57d2bd4c7b9e20e21a3465c.gif068_angry.gif.cc43c1d4bb0cee77bfbafb87fd434239.gifDavid

This is what Col Winton was advocating many years ago.

Alan Marriette.

 

 

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This is what Col Winton was advocating many years ago.Alan Marriette.

It was a given agreement by those already in the game that when the AUF came into play that they (AUF) would leave ANO95:10 as it was and pursue new category

for those wanting higher faster further. Unfortunatley those that started the AUF did not honour that agreement.

 

 

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006_laugh.gif.0f7b82c13a0ec29502c5fb56c616f069.gif

 

Come cazza my sweet ... I am a GA pilot and love flying GA aircraft and doing aerobatics, it is fantastic, but nothing beats flying along my paddocks at 30 knots 50 to 100 feet above the ground on a nice calm day and landing in creek beds or between the gum trees ... cant do that in anything slippery and fast. I was flying 95-10 aircraft when they first came out in the early 80s and I do NOT want 95-10 and 95-25 aircraft proceduralised and cost burdened out of viability, that would be insane given they were the conduit to where we are today,David

But David, my sweet.... :rofl:surely the problem lies not with the aircraft, but with the beauracracy that cannot deal with organising separate licensing and separate limits for flying low, slow, rag and tube. They will argue that if you limit a paddock basher to 300 feet and requirements to remain outside of airfields, etc., that there will be so many infringements it will impossible to regulate and become a safety issue. Am I being totally naive?insane.gif.b56be3c4390e84bce5e5e6bf4f69a458.gifinsane.gif.6df4b8f9dcb0a1d20859b8b90df10684.gifinsane.gif.b56be3c4390e84bce5e5e6bf4f69a458.gif

 

Cazza

 

 

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Well, it's taken me a few days to catch up with this thread but I wanted to take some time and fully consider it.My first reaction is to thank John Brandon for starting this thread with his lengthy and deeply thoughtful post that must have taken some time and effort to compose. I also appreciate his asking for some restraint in bagging the Board to give the new chums time to settle in and get the lay of the land.

 

It is true that from 24th September we will have a Board that is short on RA-Aus Board experience. Six of the Thirteen will be "first timers". There is a lot of catching up to do for the new members and that will absorb considerable time. That will impact on the amount if time that we will be able to devote to the Rec Flying Forum for a period. If we were faced with a constant barrage of questions in the first few weeks it could be difficult to respond within a reasonable time frame.

 

However John, we are not without experience in life, business, senior management, Board representation or aviation. There is a good spread of experiences in the incoming Members representatives. And a few of them/us, at our age, could hardly defer to our elders because the current Board "elders" may be younger than us.

 

Nevertheless, John is right that we are going to be busier than a one armed brickie in Libya for the first few months at least. Speaking for myself, I've been elected to do a job and no small part of that was to improve two-way communication between the Membership and the Board. I will not suddenly go very quiet.

 

At the same time as I agree we need some restraint, I fully understand why, in some other threads, there have been some strident attempts to guide the new Board in their voting for the new Executive. I don't have a problem with people expressing their views but of course, in the end, the Board will decide the Executive based on the individual judgements of the Board Members.

 

While we have all formed views on how well or badly the current Board has performed, the new Board has a significantly different composition. As you could reasonably expect, the new Board Members will, in voting for the new Executive, have access to information that was not previously available to them and which may not be legally published on the Forum.

Hi John / Don and All

 

Like Don i thank you John for raising this thread because what you said has certainly been on my mind and i trust that your views are respected. My prime agenda initialy is to attempt to encourage the Board to work together and i have stated previously that we must have agree to disagree strategies and respect each others views while working towards a balanced objective to benifit the continued growth and strengh of the organisation. I must say that of the Board Members i have communicated with to date i am satisfied that we will be a group working together. Yes it will take some time to settle in but we are determined to make it work and work it will. Short post but i am off to the airport to enjoy the privelage of my RA-Aus Pilot Certificate.

 

Best Regards

 

ED

 

 

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BR, I can explain in two words: It can't.

 

What might be happening is that the lighter end may not have been getting the attention to detail they deserve, or that they haven't been effectively raising any specific issues.

 

Good communication is the answer; RAA is only a vessel, as good as you make it.

 

 

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