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RAAUS - A 'MAJOR PLAYER' WITH A POTENTIALLY MAJOR SET OF PROBLEMS. AOPA Australia member opinion

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RAAUS - A 'MAJOR PLAYER' WITH A POTENTIALLY
MAJOR SET OF PROBLEMS.

AOPA Australia - Member Opinion
September 25, 2018 | Nicholas Christie

We uncover the complexities of a new era in Australian aviation and explain how ‘kicking the can down the street’ might simply delay the inevitable for RAAus.

Formerly the Australian Ultralight Federation - and operating under a myriad of exemptions and delegations - the privately operated not-for-profit company has a membership of around 9000, and a board of Directors who are charged with the responsibility of steering the RAAus company towards the vision of ‘SAFE’ Aviation (Safe, Accessible, Fun, Educational).

The board is elected and its role is to direct the organisation to achieve its stated aims while working on serving the interests of its membership. While Section 6 of the company’s own constitution doesn’t mention its members, its strategic plan does state that everything RAAus does should be ‘member-centric’. So it would be reasonable to conclude that it has consulted widely on the opinions of the membership as it has pushed through the regulatory red-tape they say is holding Australian aviation back from the brink, over the last few years. Or have they?

Corporate spin or effective management?

While we can’t definitively answer that question, what seems clear is that the ‘PR machine’ powering the organisation has its ‘Rotax’ at full ‘noise’. Michael Monck, (the ‘other’ Michael on the board who holds the position of Chairman, as opposed to Michael Linke, it’s CEO) regularly peddles a notion that RAAus is a “major player” in Aviation in Australia. Many contest that as simply a matter of opinion, and, frankly a whole lot of corporate-style spin. Others disagree and accept Mike’s claim that because “RAAus makes up 7% of all general and commercial flying” in this country, it has a right to call itself a “major player” and therefore should push hard to get what it wants from CASA, quickly (before, they say, the Aviation world as we know it ceases to exist).

The fact remains that whether the nay-sayers like it or not, the RAAus organisation is pushing forward with reforms and has the ear of CASA. Moreover, CASA seems to be peddling the notion that the organisation should take on the responsibilities (and costs) that CASA itself used to reluctantly muddle through in times gone by. In other words, what’s actually happened is that CASA has given RAAus – many would argue with a level of glee – the right to run and administer Recreational Aviation in Australia and, in time, bear both all the responsibilities and associated costs.

The current regulatory situation

While we find that CAO 95.10, 95.32 and 95.55 effectively provides the authority for members to operate their aircraft under the RAAus rules, CASA still maintains the authority to direct that amendments be made to the RAAus Operations and technical manuals. And importantly, CASA has authority over ALL recreational aircraft under the requirements of the CAA, CAR’s, CAO’s and CASR’s.

The RAAus company has made waves in the industry, and spectacularly negotiated its way through ‘self-governance’ in being accepted by CASA under the current regime. It has increased its membership (fixed it’s financial problems) and recently spent a whole heap of member’s money on IT systems that it says pave the way forward.

But now that it has CASA’s ear, many argue that RAAus seems permanently entangled in a sticky web that the CASA has weaved to either guarantee a way to better control RAAus and its member's activities, or - if one was to take a more cynical view - to plot RAA’s ultimate demise. Any other option seems too unrealistic to be feasible.

The RAAus shopping list: CTA, Weight increase & Part 149

In the August edition of Sport Pilot, the controversial ex-RSPCA boss (and now current RAus CEO), Michaal Linke, boldly declared that RAAus “need(s) to further progress our push for CTA”. He also said that the company “needs to push for increased weight” (and) that it further “needs to transition to a part 149 organisation”.

To explain from where Michael’s ambitions are derived, one needs to perhaps to look closely at why he’s pushing the organisation down this path. Some implications could have members very concerned, if not for themselves, for the RAAus organisation as it currently exists – perhaps not in the short term, but down the track a few months, and years. From a short term perspective, while the current board sits, the view is good, the books are black and the membership is growing. But the plans for more and more, might just be the strategy that leads to the RAAus company’s ultimate demise.

CTA Restrictions lifted

Currently, if you hold a current CASA issued License and medical with appropriate endorsement, you can fly an approved RAAus aircraft into and out of controlled airspace. But if you have a CTA endorsement from an RAAus approved flying school, you can fly into CTA under direct supervision. Not great if you want to go directly to where you need to go – and find yourself navigating around those big blue lines to get there.

RAAus is pushing to change this so that RAAus members can fly approved, appropriately equipped aircraft in and out of controlled airspace, provided they have the RAAus endorsement in their logbook. Sounds logical and should be a blessing to many without too much administrative burden on the company.

Weight Restrictions increased

Now we start getting into more sticky territory. Because the RAAus MTOW restriction currently stands at 600kg for aircraft registered and administered through RAAus, the RAAus board has initiated an agreement in principle with CASA to begin increasing this weight towards 1500kg, in two or three stages.

It’s likely the first stage will be 760kg (or similar) which will bring the likes of the Victa Airtourer, Grumman AA1, Cessna 150, and Van's RV-6 into the bosom of the RAAus company.

But, the downside of opening the ‘administrative umbrella’ too wide is potentially significant, if not immediately clear to the membership right now. And it comes in the form of the increased administrative and regulatory burden that will be placed on RAAus when all those new aircraft come in to ‘play’. At 760kg or so, it’s probably manageable with an incremental increase in staff and administrative capability (all other things being equal), but at 850kg and then over 1000kg, owners of other Cessna, Beechcraft and a heap of other types, old and new (the list is very long) will be ‘rushing’ to take advantage of the reduced medical and other fees – and before the board knows it, they’re spending more than the membership fees to administer, record, investigate, support and sanction members, aircraft and flight schools around the country.

If it doesn’t bring the RAAus organisation down financially, some argue that it will potentially bring membership and registration fees up quickly, and simultaneously create an unsustainable burden on its capabilities; the result of which will be increased CASA scrutiny and an atrophic cycle that may eventually render the organisation either defunct or far less relevant.

Applying for Part 149

Here’s the real show stopper. It’s important to all members to try and understand Part 149, and it's doubtful that even CASA and the board at RAAus truly do. We still don't have all the details to provide a full commentary but we will do our best with what we know (now’s the time for a cup of tea if you’re ready to take it on board).

CASR Part 149 refers to an authorisation that Sport Aircraft Organisations (SAO’s) need to apply for in order to make them ‘co-regulators’ alongside CASA.

It means that the board of RAAus (and the management of any other SAO taking on Part 149) will have to put in place the proper instruments and capabilities to deal with issues relating to administration, complaints, accidents & incidents and (often complex) regulatory issues that might arise along the way. Essentially, the obligation shifts squarely over to RAAus to act effectively when investigating all suspected and reported regulatory breaches and to establish a robust system of sanction management, similar to that you might expect in a tribunal, for instance.

But whereas now RAAus has an internal member process for administration, incident reporting and sanctions, (like any privately run club or organisation), the organisation will be forced to comply with a Part 149 ‘co-regulation’ regime that would effectively mandate it to investigate and report incidents, accidents and other breaches to CASA, where CASA will determine the outcome, or advise on a course of action.

Where the internal regulatory regime is deemed inadequate by CASA or where there are complex issues to deal with or challenges to defend, the real risk is that those organisations would probably have to employ the services of expensive legal teams, consultants and experts to fix them or run them in a way that's deemed to satisfy CASA.

Part 149 is something that’s happening because CASA is effectively imposing it on the industry, and perhaps more importantly, because the industry, in turn, is accepting it as inevitable.

If RAAus rejects Part 149 as unacceptable (not their current trajectory), CASA will likely remove the exemptions that the company operates within currently and allow only Part 149 approved organisations to operate instead of it. That means that RAAus (and possibly other organisations, such as the Australian Warbirds Association) could cease to exist, at least in their current form.

One school of thought on Part 149 is that RAAus has been over-zealous in their ambition of late, and perhaps less focussed on thoughtful consideration of what's best for the members that are “central” to everything they do. They may have pushed the throttles forward towards a legislative nightmare; one that sees CASA demand to take over the proverbial controls while they 'threaten' to fly that aircraft into the ground, if RAAus dares to touch them.

To accept Part 149, therefore, may be to step into a minefield of red tape, cost blow-outs and lack of sustainability for RAAus. To reject it, is to potentially lose RAAus as an organisation altogether while any number of other groups take the 'big umbrella' and apply to CASA for it instead.

So, the decision to either 'reject' or 'accept' Part 149 becomes, in real terms, a choice between the lesser of two “evils” for the board at RAAus. It's a difficult choice - and perhaps worryingly for many - one it appears they have already made.

But there is another way.

Perhaps now is the time for the board to start consulting closely with important industry players like AOPA, SAAA, AWAL, HGFA and work together, towards an industry-wide rejection of Part 149 to 'knock it on the head', given that there's still some months before the deadline.

That's right - hand it back to CASA, with a “sorry, not sorry” note and a bouquet of supermarket flowers signed by the two Mike's, Ben Morgan (AOPA), the SAAA and the others that really matter in the Australian General Aviation industry.

Just maybe, the thousands of members of these organisations will instead petition our Honourable members in Canberra to change the Civil Aviation Act and finally bring back a sense of sustainability (not just a focus on safety) to the industry? Many would argue that this would be the best way forward, rather than RAAus and the others pursuing Part 149.

While the risk is that other groups might come along one day and snuggle up to CASA’s 149 project, it may be in the interests of aviation in Australia that RAAus stands up now with everyone else - and says no. To do nothing and simply accept Part 149 could be a case of kicking a problem ‘down the street’, just to trip over it later - and fall face down in a deep, muddy puddle.

If RAAus continues their current strategy of industry dominance through division, it won’t work, say their detractors. And there’s more detractors now, all paid up and speaking ever louder. The question for these members is whether RAAus is listening to the membership sufficiently to give a damn about the future of Aviation in Australia.

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Well written but a couple of key changes may negate the argument put forward.

Has anyone indicated CTA access or heavier aircraft will be allowed into RAA with reduced maintenance and no medical for these endorsed pilots?

If this isn't the case why would large numbers of GA aircraft move to RAA? Would be cheaper and easier to stay where they are.

 

 

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4 hours ago, APenNameAndThatA said:

Short version?

The RAA is going " a bridge to far" . Perhaps several bridges. It risks collapsing under it's own ambitions.

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14 hours ago, APenNameAndThatA said:

Short version?

He doesn't understand public liability, or the Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities policy of user pays.

While Part 149 had a more than generous comment period, and is no gazetted, he would like to use the 10,000 RAA members to form an alliance to get rid of it; fat chance.

He does make a good point that while RAA so far has been able to finance the administration of its fleet of aircraft and operations around the fringes of cities and CTA, that cost will be exponentially increased with the need to self administer CTA operations and the complexity of having the heavier, predominantly factory and predominantly old, aircraft to manage.

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the problem for the RAA without growth they won't have the money to maintain the current spending. For all the RAAs talk about successfully attracting new pilots siphoning older GA pilots is still the core source of growth

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It will never happen but what should happen IMHO is that

  1. Aviation legislation is completely overhauled.
  2. CASA be totally updated, the name changed back to CAA & all the current mob get made redundant.
  3. A new system based on the US FAA system be implemented
  4. Redundant staff (& outside applicants) apply for roles within the new organisation & be selected by a panel of pragmatic experts from the US, UK Canada & NZ.
  5. Commercial and Recreational flying be separated
  6. A single registration process be implemented. e.g all aircraft VH.
  7. All recreational licencing be replaced with a single system with endorsements eg CTA, multi engine, type etc
  8. Self declared medical fitness based on car licence requirements.

Problem solved.

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10 hours ago, turboplanner said:

cost will be exponentially increased with the need to self administer CTA operations

Pardon my ignorance but what is the role of RAAus in the management and operation of CTA? The pilots who want a CTA endorsement will pay for it just like every other endorsement.

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27 minutes ago, fly_tornado said:

Pilots that don't want CTA access subsidize those that do

Please explain ?

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14 hours ago, Thruster88 said:

Please explain ?

think of expenses in setting up MARAP, still hasn't paid for itself so its a group subsidy.

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We already have RAA instructors teaching in RAA aircraft in CTA so all the paper must be in place? What else would be needed.

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 I hesitate to reply to this, but it really has a lot more complexity to it than most realise. Specific permissions don't tell anything of what would be required in a general situation of access being granted everywhere.. I've only ever suggested transit rights., as being what we should seek. .Most wouldn't do enough flying to keep current in CTA operations and CTA in many places is NOT over terrain you should  be flying  over.  Nev

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sounds like its time for another grass roots organisation dedicated to just flying lightweight aircraft for fun.  We appear to be in danger of being regulated to death as an organisation.   Vested interests and corporates seem intent on pushing their interests at the expense of the grass roots, just wanna fly, members.   This is rapidly becoming a vehicle for self interest, barrow pushing and empire building.  Just saying.

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What’s wrong with what we have now?. Exemptions for those who want to operate out of control zones are already in place.

This is all about privaledges for span can fliers who RAA want to attract into the ranks and it’s us who are paying.

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54 minutes ago, billwoodmason said:

What’s wrong with what we have now?. 

Personally, I don't there is much wrong.

I'd probably like another 100kgs but am pretty happy as we are now. But I do want skyrocketing costs and fees to stabilise. 

The corporate mentality is that "it" must expand or will collapse and die. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable could expand on that....

The RAA is a bit of an oddball company being a quasi govt arm and a monopoly.

Unfortunately there is a not so secret agenda of empire building and expansion into areas the RAA was not designed for.

As has been said many times, there are ways and means already in existance for those wanting to fly heavier aircraft and into CTA.

My worry (as FH sort of alluded to) is an RAA regoed aircraft/pilot having an incident with a major rpt aircraft at a cta controlled airport.

The reputation of the RAA and it's pilots down the drain.

 

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“My worry (as FH sort of alluded to) is an RAA regoed aircraft/pilot having an incident with a major rpt aircraft at a cta controlled airport.”

 

——————————-

 

Has been incident free to my knowledge for over 10 yrs, so nothing new here (for RAA reg aircraft,  pilot must currently have GA licence or under instrution) 

I have been using my LSA in C & D for 10 years.

Needs training but nothing great just some differences.  There are plenty of 17yr olds flying in CTA.

 

remember in CTA the tower ensures separation.

Edited by frank marriott

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Yes, but you have the GA LICENCE Frank.....I have no problem with that. 

 

 

Edited by Downunder

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2 hours ago, Downunder said:

Yes, but you have the GA LICENCE Frank.....I have no problem with that. 

 

 

And anyone else can get one too ! You will need a medical for CTA I'm sure and you will need the training so just get an RPL or PPL and do it !  This is about getting access on the cheap and making others pay ! I'm sure most will get a shock when they have to pay air services charges ! It's not free ! 

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5 hours ago, frank marriott said:

remember in CTA the tower ensures separation.

No.....They don't. Not for VFR anyway. They provide segregation, not separation - there is a very big difference. Separation has minimum standards, segregation doesn't.

Quote

Clearances issued by ATC units will provide separation:

  • between all flights in Classes A and B airspace;
  • Between IFR flights in classes C, D and E airspace
  • between IFR flights and VFR flights in Class C airspace;
  • between IFR flights and special VFR flights
  • between special VFR flights when so prescribed by the appropriate ATS authority

Note there is no mention of VFR/VFR separation! An oft-overlooked gotcha in CTA...

 

There was a very close near miss at Bankstown not long ago when a Warrior was doing T&G's, went around and a Helo was cleared across the runway at 500'.

This is the comment from one of the ATC'ers in the tower:

Quote

An off-duty controller, who was in the ATC tower at the time of the incident, commented that in Class D airspace, pilots have responsibility to see and avoid VFR aircraft and ATC has a responsibility to provide relevant traffic information to assist them to do that.

 

Edited by KRviator
Screwed up the quote syntax
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49 minutes ago, KRviator said:

Note there is no mention of VFR/VFR separation! An oft-overlooked gotcha in CTA...

Try flying close without declaring formation in class C (where I spend most of my CTA time) and you will be given certain guidance - limited time in secondary & class D.

Edited by frank marriott

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In the US holders with sport pilot licences (RAAus equivalent ie drivers licence medical) with appropriate endorsements can fly in properly equipped aircraft in Class B airspace which includes the airspace around all the major international airports like LAX (which has 5 VFR transit routes that I understand do not require ATC clearance below 10,000 feet). It may also be that US training is more rigorous. That given, the argument about collisions would seem to baseless)

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8 hours ago, Jim McDowall said:

In the US holders with sport pilot licences (RAAus equivalent ie drivers licence medical) with appropriate endorsements can fly in properly equipped aircraft in Class B airspace which includes the airspace around all the major international airports like LAX (which has 5 VFR transit routes that I understand do not require ATC clearance below 10,000 feet). It may also be that US training is more rigorous. That given, the argument about collisions would seem to baseless)

Having personally experienced an Ultralight coming towards me when I was flying downwind within Las Vegas controlled airspace, I wouldn't  be classifying potential for collisions in US airspace as baseless

 

The link below is a good example of the complexity of the Las Vegas controlled airspace procedures today, and where its headed. Note that these procedures are now ICAO compliant, and also the importance of accurate instrumentation, and the ability to understand and use it.

 

https://www.faa.gov/tv/?mediaId=1536

 

If you search for Incursions on the ATSB website there are 19 cases, which show some of the easy ways to get caught.

 

I suspect, as a starter that RAA would have to retrain maybe 80% of its existing instructors to comply for CTA training, and that would be an expensive task, starting with finding and paying the RAA training staff, facilities, equipment, and compliance and enforcement. RAA members, most of whom would not be interested in flying into CTA would have to foot the bill for this. And that's apart from the aircraft specification level, and other Pilot costs.

 

CTA costs would be effectively a tax on country pilots.

 

The Office of Airspace Regulation administers the Airspace Regulations (2007) Act.

If you want to know about CTA, that's a good place to start.

 

Edited by turboplanner

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56 minutes ago, turboplanner said:

 

 

I suspect, as a starter that RAA would have to retrain maybe 80% of its existing instructors to comply for CTA training, and that would be an expensive task, starting with finding and paying the RAA training staff, facilities, equipment, and compliance and enforcement. RAA members, most of whom would not be interested in flying into CTA would have to foot the bill for this. And that's apart from the aircraft specification level, and other Pilot costs.

 

CTA costs would be effectively a tax on country pilots.

 

 

Would it not be the case that a school wishing to offer CTA endorsement would get their instructors trained at their expense at a school able to offer this service. A pilot wanting a CTA endorsment would pay for their own training, buy the transponder and get the medical. It has been pointed out that any RAA pilot can do this now. I don't see this impacting someone who just wants to fly a Thruster around the farm.

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