How to fix the Australian Aviation Industry?
The problems of the Aviation Industry in Australia, are older than the pilot's dispute or sausage factory flying schools in the Hunter. They stem from a distorted truth that in Australia, people do believe that anyone can fly a plane, and that somehow, earning a pilots licence assures the user of a lifetime of luxury.
In a nation of tall poppies, the industry needs to assure the taxpayer that the costs of not being able to assure "just in time" deliveries, the delivery of overseas goods, the export of perishable domestic goods and the steady supply of overseas tourists would be of enormous detriment to each and every Australian.
On a completely different note, people who have nothing to do with aviation need to be reassured that our industry takes seriously, the general populations right to be protected from an aircraft falling on their heads!
I have just finished reading one of Steve Creedy's many articles in "The Australian". I know Steve from when he was a business and aviation writer in Pittsburgh for, "The Pittsburgh Post". In fact he had dinner at my house with his wife Nancy, when I was still an air-ambulance pilot.
In Steve's latest articles he describes an alarming trend of an increase in fatal accidents among general aviation pilots. What nobody seems to recognise is that many pilots who have come up through this inferior system may soon be at the controls of airliners.
What we have seen in Australia is a general dumbing down of the industry. What the Americans have painfully realized is that people of less than average intelligence make very poor pilots. They make bad decisions about flying, lifestyle choices, past-time behaviors and are bad ambassadors for their employers. We are now seeing the full swing of the pendulum with almost every employer requiring a Bachelor's Degree in Science or other objective field and a full college transcript outlining academic achievement throughout the full course of learning. Clearly being a Pavlovian Dog or a parrot at examination time will not cut it anymore.
American Airlines had a very stressful dispute with the pilot group in 1998. The dispute was resolved with some hardship to both sides, but one thing that was agreed upon was this:
Each passenger seat is worth aprroximately $30,000,000 in potential liability.
To gain some perspective on this:
When United had a compressor stall that almost led to a three-engine flameout from San Francisco in a 747, the perceived negligence on the part of the crew would have left United with a total liability of nearly four times their coverage!!
Clearly, "affordable" safety....isn't!
In Australia, we can no longer believe that the Approved Testing Officer Program is in the best interests of the industry. We can no longer allow the theory examinations to be held by anyone but CASA, and under lock and key, until scheduled examination dates.
We can no longer accept that flying schools that guarantee accelerated training are acting in our best interests and we can no longer accept the bull### that is coming from the mouth of our would-be dictator Dick Smith.
I call on everyone; PPL through to 747-400 Check and Training, to take a long hard look at themselves and ask themselves if there is not something that they should be doing?
All the best!