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Airspace Reform – Quiet Reflection

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Airspace Reform – Quiet Reflection

Old 30th Aug 2004, 18:57
  #1 (permalink)  
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Airspace Reform – Quiet Reflection


It was predictable, though by no means certain, that the current planned airspace reform program would stall at this point, because of serious flaws in process and planning. It should not, however, be seen as a “right or wrong” situation – merely one where decisions were (finally) taken on the ultimate aviation fallback – SAFETY.

We are sure that there was inordinate pressure being brought to bear on the decision makers. Common sense has prevailed.

We have observed two things in this debate. The first is a dramatic polarization of views in Australian aviation, with a hard “in favour of NAS” faction, and a hard “against NAS” faction, and very little observable middle ground.

The more important observation, though, has been the tremendous, albeit last minute, focus on risk assessment and cost benefit analysis. These were the tools missing at the start of this reform effort, and if nothing else positive has come of the exercise, it is the presence of a range of tools and expertise with which to attack any future reform efforts.

It is impossible that a sensible debate could be had now, or in the very near future. But rather than engage in a drawn out blame shift or legal battle, Mr Smith could and should add significantly to airspace management be asking his experts to cooperate and collaborate with Airservices Australia and other industry partners to develop a common and agreed risk modeling process, that is acceptable to all parties. This would include the work done by other stakeholders, including Broome airport.

One thing that is patently clear is the contribution to the recent chaos caused by the failure of your regulator to make a decision and publish a risk reference standard for Australia. The only material in the public domain is outdated guidance material, which causes more harm that good.

One of the first objectives of your regulator must be to “bite the bullet” and declare what constitutes acceptable or unacceptable risk in Australian aviation. At the very least, it will give you a start point from which to argue safety and risk in the public domain.

Once more we have to say that the proposed changes under NAS were not necessarily unsafe – but the manner in which they were being introduced, and the total lack of transparent process, made the transition risk unacceptable. If further reform is to be achieved, not only must the risk associated with the changes be examined, but those associated with implementing the changes must be examined and carefully managed.

The nature of airspace, and the evolution of aircraft and supporting infrastructure, is such that airspace review and reform must be a constant process. Airspace is a national commodity, which must be used in the national interest, and not unnecessarily restricted for the benefit of one part of the aviation industry. This must be achieved within an agreed safety and risk management framework.
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Old 30th Aug 2004, 23:32
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Spot on, VoR, and thank you for your efforts.

I believe it was only through your well-reasoned, and timely, intervention that the airspace decision makers in Oz finally started to seriously question the bases for planning underpinning NAS and the potential downstream consequences of the path that we were going down. Their task was made so much easier when DS self-destructed on 4BC.

As a PPL who uses the system regularly, thanks for restoring common sense into the debate and for ensuring the ongoing integrity of Australia's national airspace system.

As you say, every system needs to continually evolve and improve, and I believe Australia's system can be improved, but let's do it in a manner that reflects world's best practice in planning methods and also maintains the confidence of ALL airspace users.
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Old 30th Aug 2004, 23:37
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Wholeheartedly agree.

There is a need for reform in Australian Aviation. It's not just airspace and airspace procedures, however, that needs reform.

Any aviation reform in Australia needs to take a holistic approach. An approach where all the factors that affect a viable Australian aviation industry are taken into consideration. A process that involves all stakeholders, and has safety as a priority. A process where consultation with experts and interested parties has occurred. But most importantly, a reform process that has clear milestones with viable and adequate education in place for all airspace users and administrators.

Aviation management is a team game for team players. It is not the place for mavericks or those with a crusade complex.
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Old 31st Aug 2004, 04:28
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Facts and data tend to be at a premium in the debate about airspace

Let's try to collect some facts and data. (VoR and Woomera: I hope you don't mind me hijacking this sticky for a good cause.)

Dear PPRuNers

1. On the occasions on which you fly VFR, how often have you have had to wait outside controlled airspace while waiting for an airways clearance to enter that airspace?

2. On the occasions on which you have been flying VFR and have had to wait outside controlled airspace while waiting for an airways clearance, how close (in terms of time) were you to the airspace boundary before you provided details to ATC?

3. How often have you wanted to fly, but have been prevented from flying where you wanted to go or at all, because the aircraft had no transponder or the transponder fitted to the aircraft was unserviceable?
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Old 31st Aug 2004, 12:42
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Nice summary. I've not agreed with all of the VoR posts, as some have varied greatly in objectivity, but this one is certainly on the money.

...a dramatic polarization of views in Australian aviation, with a hard “in favour of NAS” faction, and a hard “against NAS” faction, and very little observable middle ground.
It has been very difficult for anyone on this forum to post anything but complete agreement with one end or other of the debate without beeing "shouted down" by those who obviously have more time to spend in front of a computer terminal to defend their position/s. And it does seem that apart from RHS, the "antiNAS" folks have most of the time or the inclination.....

At times I have played a very minor (I have a life away from the PC) devil's advocate role in pointing out that the very things that make some folks apopleptic seem to be OK in some areas but not in others ( e.g. IFR RPT crossing VFR GA in "E" over "D" near YSCH is BAD but then accepting jet RPT descending into G then MBZ as in Ballina/Byron).....all questions regarding what is the objective standard that separates these circumstances are ignored or returned with a vitriol that is underserved (how ya goin' Binos?).

A declaration of "what constitutes acceptable or unacceptable risk in Australian aviation" would be most welcome. The Medical section of CASA have been basing their risk assessments on a 1:1000000 risk of pilot incapacitation for example.


1. VFR private flying - ~1:5 delays in/near terminal airspace; up to 20 minutes of orbits traversing YBCG airspace on a CAVOK day. IFR private flying - no delays. Other IFR flying - no delays. It's OK if you pay.....except private IFR ex:Bankstown - expect to be d*cked around extensively most times unless you want to stay =<8000 via RIC.

2. *Always* flight planned with >> 1 hour notification and if VFR, call >10 minutes before boundary, with ATIS. IFR, never any delay, just the occasional vector. It's OK if you pay....

3. There are ACFT without TXP??!!

BTW - why would a lawyer be interested in FACTS and DATA??

Cheerio chaps
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Old 31st Aug 2004, 14:24
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Q1. Haven't flown VFR for many years but in the days I did, was never denied a clearance and never flew outside the training area without a flight plan.

Q2. Never had to remain OCTA as always flight planned when outside training area.

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Old 31st Aug 2004, 20:26
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Capt Claret
But 'back in the day' you had to flightplan everything, didn't you?

Well before my time, but my mate's old man had a PPL back in the 70s, and he tells me his dad had to lodge a flightplan to ferry planes from Schoies back to Bankstown every weekend. His old man has past away so I couldn't ask him, but a flightplan for such a short flight seems overkill these days.

On the otherhand, GA was more vibrant then than now... who knows?
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Old 31st Aug 2004, 21:26
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If you’re delayed 1 in 5 flights, having submitted a flight plan or details well in advance, that’s unacceptable. Either there are insufficient air traffic service resources in the areas in which you fly, or the air traffic service providers in those areas are not competent, or you’re not working the flightplan or the system properly.

I have to say, yours is the only first hand report of delays of that kind that I’ve ever heard. Do you have any colleagues who suffer the same delay rate?

As to your rhetorical question re transponders: indeed. All this outrage about transponder requirements, but nobody’s stopped to find out how often (if ever) someone is prevented from flying somewhere, or at all, because of transponder requirements.

And to answer your question about facts and data: you’d be surprised how often facts and data get in the way of ostensibly compelling arguments, legal or otherwise!
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Old 31st Aug 2004, 22:55
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The simple answer is no. As best I can remember the choices for a VFR pilot in those days were:
  • Flight plan with Full Position Reporting (much like today's IFR, posn reports + 2 minutes.
  • Flight Plan & nominate a SARTime,
  • No SAR No Details - couldn't just pop up at the CTR/CTA boundary and request a clearance.

I think there was a 50 nm limit from departure point to legally operate No SAR-No Details, in the example you site, I suspect that BK as a Secondary CTZ (in those days) wouldn't allow inbound without a flight plan.

Speaking for myself, I never found it onerous to file a flight plan, back then we even had nice Flight Service officers who would accept a reverse charges phone call, read out the Wx & notams and take the flight plan details!

It's interesting that when CFI at a regional Aero Club, there was a level of tension between myself and some of the committee. Said committee members were of the opinion that one should just be able to jump in and fire off to where ever without following the rules of the day. They used to do things like call the AFIZ on taxi, advising of a NoSar NoDetails flight to a point just outside the AFIZ boundary, and then fly all the way from QLD to Mildura and the like, without talking to a soul.

One of these guys once told a student studying for his then Unrestricted PPL, not to worry about studying the WX/Notams and working out headings & GS, just look out the window and if you get into trouble, "you've always got a radio". This person's son was killed years later flying a metro into a large rock at night, below the DME steps. I often wonder if dad's cavalier attitude my have contributed to the son's well intentioned but fatal decision to ignore DME limits in a locale he was not familiar with.

My perception is that Dick et al want the privilege of flying where they want, when they want, without any of the responsibility that comes with defying nature in a heavier-than-air machine. I believe that they work on the big sky theory as I don't believe that they have any better sight than the average CPL/ATPL holder, and it scares me how many aircraft I've passed and not been able to see. Thus far the big sky theory has been a signifficant factor in the lack of mid-airs in Australia. I just don't want to rely on it!


Last edited by Capt Claret; 1st Sep 2004 at 06:59.
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Old 1st Sep 2004, 11:26
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Your contributions to the debate on airspace have been appreciated and valued.

It is indeed a matter of regret that your topical reflection will fall on barren ground.

Your expression of hope concerning Mr Smith will remain, as Dr Johnson said, a reflection of the triumph of hope over experience.

This is not a slight on you but a recognition that the experience of Australian aviators, policy makers and politicians is that Mr Smith is incapable of co-operating or working with anyone or any organisation that does not accept, unquestioningly, his view of the world.

Few people respond to shouting, bluster, threats, personal attacks, the selective use of information and the arrant deduction so evident in Mr Smith's replies to the various forums on airspace reform that have appeared over the past few months.

Further, your expressed hope that the regulator will publish a risk reference standard will also sadly fall on barren ground.

The regulator simply won't bite the bullet because the only politically acceptable solution that will receive support is zero risk.

The industry knows and understands this to be patently ridiculous and impractical but to an Australian travelling public that has never suffered a jet hull loss and for whom the last major hull loss of any significance was in 1968 (Viscount crash near Port Hedland, WA), to suggest that an acceptable risk, however remote, includes the possibility that they might be killed in an air crash just, to use a very bad pun, won't fly.

Our gutless politicans who, to quote Sir Humphrey, may occasionally take a controversial decision but never a courageous one (the latter being one likely to cost them their place in Parliament), will simply not permit anything else.

What then follows is obvious. The airlines will, quite properly, tell the public how much such a safety regime will cost, and the consequent massive increase in air fares, and remind the politicians of the level of likely job losses in marginal seats in the major cities and the same gutless wonders will quickly avoid making any decision at all.

The result will sadly be more of the same with vast amounts of money wasted, enormous frustration for the industry and decisions about airspace taken without reference to cost benefits, proven risk models and demonstrably scientific data and the operational and commercial requirements of the users.
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Old 1st Sep 2004, 16:57
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My perception is that Dick et al want the privilege of flying where they want, when they want, without any of the responsibility that comes with defying nature in a heavier-than-air machine. I believe that they work on the big sky theory as I don't believe that they have any better sight than the average CPL/ATPL holder, and it scares me how many aircraft I've passed and not been able to see. Thus far the big sky theory has been a signifficant factor in the lack of mid-airs in Australia. I just don't want to rely on it!
my bolding

Game set and match I'd say
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Old 3rd Sep 2004, 12:44
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Christmas Scene Jar

I think it is a recently published theory that if you took all the airplanes in Australia and shoved them in a jar the size of australian lower level airspace and shook it around it would take 300 years for two to collide. This doesn't take into consideration the fact that airplanes tend to congregate of course. I'm with Gaunty though; it would be just my sort of luck to beat the odds and find one.

Creampuff, in my very limited experience, an Oz pilot can't just say "flying vfr in Oz you'll be denied an airways clearance 1 in 5 times". I'm probably wrong, but in my experience it just depends on the airport you're heading into, the time and day (read traffic flow) and the alignment of the solar system (read controllers mood). I've never been knocked back coming into Canberra VFR, yet have had to orbit outside ML for a half hour on a quiet night. Yet the other day outside Melbourne just listening, I heard ATC absolutely bend over backwards with an Indian phrasebook to try and help out a guy who just wanted a clearance to clip the edge of class C to save himself about 1 minute. There is no hard a fast rule. Same as UK.

I don't have an instrument rating, but one thing I was wondering was what would ATC say if they denied an already airbourne inbound IFR flight anyway? Once airbourne, say from a CTAF or MBZ, aren't you already sort of accepted into the system anyway? Would ATC tell you to "remain OCTA"? How would they seperate you from other IFR traffic without putting you into some sort of pattern? I guess what I'm thinking is perhaps getting an IFR AC to hold outside OCTA with no holding pattern (as is often the case) AND providing seperation is harder than just accepting the aircraft. VFR AC however they can just say "remain OCTA" and absolve themselves of responsibility temporarily.

I realise I'm asking questions in the big peoples area here. I've got a load off my chest though..
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Old 3rd Sep 2004, 13:08
  #13 (permalink)  

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"Clearance not available" and they are supposed to stay out or use a 'flaky VFR procedure' to enter without a clearance. If they tell me what they're doing I'll include it in traffic information but (separation wise) nobody exists until they have a clearance (or it becomes apparant they've penetrated).

But we only do it if there's SOMEBODY IN THE WAY!
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Old 3rd Sep 2004, 13:51
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Your question is a good one and the answer is something that those who have latched on to the pro-NAS at any cost bandwagon dont want you to hear (you see, NAS is nothing to do with making it easier for pilots or even anything to do with Aviation - it is 100% politics and bullshiit from dick smith and his pied-piper ignoramii).

Thing is.... IFR aircraft can and do get told remain OCTA. If they are transitting from G Airpsace they do not have an automatic clearance. In fact (they wont tell you this at AOPA school) they have no more priority at most controlled airports than VFR traffic - in fact, a VFR pop-up at most controlled airports has equal priority to a 747 from LAX or Hong Kong. Don't believe me? Check your AIP! Do you know why most people don;t know this? (apart from propoganda and disinformation campaigns being run by the loony fringe).......

It's because, it is very rarely needed to delay an aircraft for clearance - for VFR or for IFR!

The phrase 'remain OCTA' does not equate to 'Clearnace not Available'. It just means that the controller is finding your flight plan details (or entering them into a data hungry network system if you havent flight planned : hint-hint--> put a bloody flight plan in people!), or has not yet identified you (radar). Once you are sorted, you wil only ever be delayed if a separation standard can not be applied immediately to other traffic in CTA, or you have a lower priority according to AIP. (i.e. Sydney Airport / Medical traffic etc.)

There is no black magic or how a controller feels about it.

Dick Smith doesnt say this in his rants - frankly I wonder if he even knows it.
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Old 5th Sep 2004, 10:24
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passenger class action


I wonder if you have any plaintiff lawyer colleagues?

It has crossed several passenger's minds (and crew) that the recent near misses arising out of the implementation of NAS2B may be amenable to a class action 'remedy' against a certain entrepreneur or a larger entity.

Curious to know whether a 'near miss' could be construed as damages suffered and an action taken in the Federal Court by a representative of the several hundered passengers negligently exposed to the increased risk of mid air collision.

Only theoretically speaking mind you!

Seems there is now a lot of evidence out in the public domain.

Any views?
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Old 5th Sep 2004, 16:01
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A Restraining Order on behalf of the injured party (the aviation industry) would be nice.
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Old 6th Sep 2004, 03:21
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From AOPA website 6SEP04

Comment from the President, Ron Bertram:

AOPA Australia does not blindly support Dick Smith or any other aviation group, AOPA policies on airspace management have been long standing and consistent.

Airservices Australia have made it obvious that they are only interested in the needs of major carriers, those who provide their major revenue, and the narrow vested interests of the several unions involved. None of them give a hoot for the needs of General Aviation, the tens of thousands employed in General Aviation, the thousands of general aviation business, or the essential services that only GA can provide.

AOPA has not changed its position on NAS, AOPA policy has been unwavering.

AOPA supported the Cabinet decision to model the NAS on the very safe and successful US system, after all it is the model for the system adopted by ICAO. NAS is really no different to Airspace 2000, or LLAMPS at their inception, nor is the hijacking of NAS much different to what lead to the abandonment of Airspace 2000 and LLAMPS. ---- Except for one little thing, NAS 2b is in place and successful, and we are seeing a determined rearguard action by "all the usual suspects" to unwind it.

AOPA accepts genuine, arms length professional quantitative analysis, AOPA does not accept the Airservices so called Risk Analysis as meeting any acceptable standard for such an exercise. Every external examination of the Risk Assessment E over D report has raised serious and fundamental objections to every aspect of the methodology. If you all want to put you head in the sand, and say that O'Neil, Broderick, Mills, even R2A et al are all wrong, so be it, fundamentalist believers are seldom swayed by science.

Some feel that AOPA policy merely follows Dick Smith. If you want to believe that, there is little AOPA can do the sway your view, anybody who doubts AOPA policies in the area only has to look at back copies of the magazine. All you will find is a pragmatic policy of demanding that the imposition of any restrictions and requirements (except for mandatory transponder in E) be by a properly conducted costs and benefits justified risk assessment. That goes for all matters of regulation, not just airspace management.

If genuine, honest and professional analysis of any risk really indicates the need for C to be established, AOPA will accept that, but it must conform to the NAS/FAA standard, there must be primary and secondary radar.

That is what we have now, radar C, why would AOPA accept a degraded standard, compared to the present national standard. Non radar C is an endangered species, it's already very rare.

Of course AOPA is concerned about safety in Australia, no AOPA member has a death wish,but the recent Risk Assessment E over D is so fundamentally flawed that it cannot be relied upon. It does not prove that E is unsafe, it does not prove that C over D is the only answer, in fact it proves nothing in providing Australia with efficient and cost effective air traffic management.

As for what is now proposed for November, the package goes far beyond just rolling back NAS 2b, and introduces a whole raft of new requirements, without consultation and without the justifications required by Airservices own Act. In effect, it seeks to roll back much of AMATS, the long held desire of a small bunch of aviation flat earthers, whose hearts desire is to see Australia remain an aviation Galapagos, a quaint little backwater.

Anyway, it is now generally accepted that the Airservices board did not make their recent famous decision based on E being "unsafe", but on more general fears of personal liability for making any decision that did other than increase restrictions and extend the reach of ATC. It's no "leak", in our opinion, the Acting Chairman of Airservices has semi-publicly said as much.

As to any potential judicial proceedings, AOPA will be in lockstep with ASAC, RFACA and the RAA, AOPA will not be acting alone. We will be in excellent company, it is many years since the backbone organizations of the "little end of town" have been so united
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Old 6th Sep 2004, 04:23
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The above is 100% genuine, mint condition, Hamilton, with a large ladle of warmed over Smith under Bertams name . The usual vintage discursive polemic.

Apart from that;

AOPA has not changed its position on NAS, AOPA policy has been unwavering.
Horse feathers

A little correction there it did actually , until the bad guys, guess who, were literally run out of town by the good guys.

First I must say what reasonable person could not support soundly based reform.

However the "bad guys" under considerable and unrelenting fire had it changed from "unequivocal whatever Dick says" and all the claptrap above, to "we support the NAS, but will be closely monitoring it's implementation".

An entirely more responsible and reasonable position for the AOPA membership at large, considering that at the time the "implementation" process was still "unknown".

How can you "unequivocally agree" with something about which there was yet no detail.

It is unfortunate that the view and "recieved wisdon" of Hamilton and his cohort is conflated with and represented as those of the "membership", there has to my knowledge never been a "poll" of the membership on this or any other issue, unless you call the elections such. In which case, my case rests.
The evidence suggest that since Smith and his cohort started "their" reform AOPA has almost disappeared.

And yes, in accordance with that policy of closely monitoring we signed on to an T & E implementation package on the condition, that the frequencies and boundaries on the charts "in transition" were retained mitigators agreed by the NASIG, NAPAC and all of industry including QF.
These, by the deceit and sleight of hand to which we have become inured, were removed in a way that made it effectively too late for any action. It seems we were right about that and the misgivings we "the bad guys" i.e. held about 2c in the then proposed form.

The sheer duplicity of those involved was breathtaking and they are now back in control.

I challenge Mr Smith, right here, to tell us unequivocally, how and on what certified risk management basis, and to whom of the "stakeholders" was it communicated, when the decision was made to ignore or dismiss those mitigators and that it was not negotiable identified and agreed by the 2b Hazard ID workshop "stakeholders" held with ALL industry in Sydney 2003.

I and the VP responsible for this matter will swear an affidavit that the first we heard about it, was the Tues before the following Mondays 2b 20th Oct go/no go date and then only second hand, via QF and that there was also a meeting scheduled with AOPA, QF and NASIG on that Friday in Sydney to "tidy up".?

I suspect but cannot prove that the T&E material had already been signed off and was already at the printers at that time.

As to any potential judicial proceedings, AOPA will be in lockstep with ASAC, RFACA and the RAA, AOPA will not be acting alone. We will be in excellent company, it is many years since the backbone organizations of the "little end of town" have been so united
I'd like to see some comnfirmation of that, the good guys in AOPA tried very very hard to put the RFACA out of business, the wounds go very deep and they wouldn't go near ASAC.


Legal action, yup against the authors of this truly unbelievebale fiasco, trouble is they'd wind up on the wrong side of the court.

Ah well better go get the nomex on again.
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Old 6th Sep 2004, 05:51
  #19 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2004
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Touchie, touchie, Garry.
But you do seem to have selective memory, I'm an AOPA member, and I remember the survey that came around in the magazine, at the AGM it was said that the response was quite good in terms of members responding, and the result was strongly in favor of NAS. Your just playing with words, to suggest that "monitoring the implementation" somehow means a big policy shift. Then again, words are all you are good at, words are cheap, words don't substitute for action.
As for Hamilton, you did your best to unseat him, you failed, despite all the vilifying claims you were making.There wasn't the groundswell against him that you claimed.
You got tossed of the Executive at the AGM and it doesn't matter how many voted, you came last.

And you were a one term wonder, a legend in your own play lunchtime. Things change with the guard, ask around and you may find many more support AOPA since your departure.
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Old 6th Sep 2004, 07:09
  #20 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2004
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As a mug beginner I don't even understand the point of what is going on. I have no interest in what has happened in the past.

As a non flying person until a few months ago, my sole concern about airspace reform was to minimise the risk of being in an airliner getting hit by a Cessna. I was aware that there was cost cutting, outsourcing and "user pays" going on in CASA and that the former CAA was now a basket case with all sorts of infighting going on. Australia has had a reputation as a "safe" place to fly. I was not in favor of airspace reform if it meant that our safety record was somehow being compromised. I thought what we were seeing was mere cost cutting.

I have a few simple questions to ask.

Is it possible for GA and RPT to co exist? I respectfully suggest that an "us" vs. "them" mentality is a recipe for eventual disaster both physically, politically and economically - for both GA and RPT.

Is there any large group of sacred cows who are going to lose their jobs if the system is changed or is there some group who feel that there entitlements are challenged? If so this must be acknowledged and dealt with.

Is there some universally agreed independent provider of technical risk management advice? If so do we have their advice?

My sole concern is not to run into another aircraft. I am aware that technology exists that in theory can reduce the risk of midair collisions. I am also aware that the introduction of advanced technology in other settings has provoked a violent response from those whose livelihoods are affected, such as to sabotage the potential gains from the technology.

Is there anything that can be agreed on? Personally I don't care what system is in place as long as it is safe, since I have zero experience of any system and consequently no opinion. However taking positions and fighting is not going to do anyone any good.
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