The President Says
For me to write this newsletter each month I store up the emails that come over my desk and then run through them to find bits that may be of interest to you, copy them and paste them into the main body of the newsletter. I may have already read them but it is a good reminder of what has happened during the previous month. I have just reopened the one that was in the Australian Aviation News http://australianaviation.com.au/2016/08/skidmore-resigns-as-casa-ceo-and-director-of-aviation-safety/ announcing the resignation of the CASA CEO and Director Mark Skidmore. It was interesting to read the comments posted by GA people at the bottom and it has prompted me to add a bit on the subject.
I met Mark Skidmore in Sydney at an AOPA safety seminar just after he took the job on. He was an easy to talk to, intelligent person who had a desire to see things change for the better in the industry. He owned a small aircraft and flew just like we do in GA. Then a few weeks later he was guest speaker at the Aviation NZ conference along with Graeme Harris our own CAA Director and CEO. Both men are very approachable and have similar backgrounds. The issues they faced in both countries had many similarities. Issues like too much red tape, unworkable over-regulation, a desire for an easier PPL medical system etc. etc.
So what has happened to make Skidmore resign and is there a lesson for us here. The response by many was “good riddance and now we can get on with someone who will make some changes”. I do not subscribe to that theory and believe that the issues are far deeper than we realise. These are not issues that can be changed or fixed by one person unless they have absolute and unbridled power, insert “dictator” as the job description and you will get a result but as history will show in most cases the dictator is not a benevolent one.
My own approach has always been to try and negotiate a deal with the person in power, but the problem with both CASA and CAA is who do you do that with. Graeme Harris has always been very open and keen to listen and on many occasions agrees with what we are putting forward. Using the medical fee as an example, he agreed in 2013 that they had probably got it wrong in Nov 2012. The current funding review accepts that it was wrong, but here we are 4 years later with no change. I suggest that it is the “system” that is wrong and there are layers and layers of other people/bureaucrats (see definition below) that are between what we agree on and what can actually happen.
Until we change the System we will not succeed in our goal for "the freedom to fly". To change the system requires a lot of politics and getting to know the politicians. Unfortunately, they (politicians) change on a regular basis and you may make headway over a three-year period just to have a new Minister come in at the next election. It does not matter what political party they are, it is because the people that run the departments stay on with a business as usual attitude. If we are going to have real change it requires a coordinated effort and lots of time. I do believe that the Aviation Federation and Aviation NZ are making an impact. John Nicholson, who is the new CEO of Aviation NZ, has a long history with aviation but also has the benefit of being being respected in the corridors of power. Add to that the fact that he is based in Wellington and you have the makings of a good lobbyist. John works well with the Federation and I hope that together we can start to make changes to the system.
Last year I suggested to the Minister that we need to have a meeting with him once a year for some open dialogue on the state of the industry and how we can improve the way we do things. The meeting should be free and frank and include the Presidents of the Aviation Federation, Aviation New Zealand and Air New Zealand (as a start), . I am hopefull we will get to that.
With Air New Zealand and Airways Ltd posting record profits there is the risk that they will be preoccupied with their success and not really interested in changing things but hopefully once the champagne runs out it will be back to reality for them. However, GA is struggling at the moment and it is from here that the next generation of commercial pilots will come. We need to protect the regional airfields and improve them because they provide a vital link to those outlying areas for industry and emergency access. Our aero clubs need to be supported as they are the breeding ground for our best pilots in commercial aviation. We need to establish a basic aviation infrastructure that covers all New Zealand and is paid for by a fair user pays system. A system that recognises who the users really are.
That’s enough politics for now.
On the social side, the Bonspiel fly-in last Wednesday was another great success and many thanks to Shaun Gilbertson for giving the 24 planes that showed up with only 2 days’ notice the chance to enjoy a landing on the snow. (I guess that means there were 24 sickies thrown that day). I used Graeme Donald's trip as an example at an airways meeting the next day. I was banging on about access to airspace for VFR and in particular across Cook Strait, when Graeme’s story came to mind. He climbed out of Omarama to 9000 feet and flew all the way back to Fielding crossing the ditch under radar surveillance which was when he entered controlled airspace. There was no problem being accepted by ATC and he only had a Mode C transponder. While I agree with the benefits of Mode S and ADSB, we are working with the authorities to extend the VFR requirement out as far as possible. If Airways keep the SSR radars going longer than was originally intended I see some leeway in the mandate for VFR flights. That is a work in progress.
There is a CAA New Southern Sky Road show coming to a town near you in September so go to our website http://www.aopa.co.nz/view_event.php?event=159 or the CAA New Southern Sky web site. to see where then go along to hear the latest developments from Steve Smyth and the team. They will explain the benefits of ADSB and why we need to embrace the new technology.
an official in a government department, in particular one perceived as being concerned with procedural correctness at the expense of people's needs).