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Glen Buckley and Australian small business -V- CASA

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Glen Buckley and Australian small business -V- CASA

Old 30th Jun 2021, 04:27
  #1661 (permalink)  
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Ombudsman 5 of 5

Please find a document below those outlines the restrictions that CASA placed on the business, and their impact. I feel somewhat that the implications of the trading restrictions on the business are not being given the appropriate consideration in this matter. They were not proportionate, not necessary, and Mr Aleck was not compelled to make the decisions he made. These restrictions were unnecessary and had no basis in law or CASA procedures. A face to face well intentioned discussion of less that 3 hours duration could have had this entire fiasco avoided. It really could have been that simple, if all Parties were genuinely acting with good intent.



Consider that CASA provided short term “interim approvals to operate” in accordance with the timelines below. No education provider, or in fact any business could continue to operate in any industry with such limited surety of operations.



23/10/18 7 days surety of operations.

30/10/18 to 12/02/19 No surety of operations. Awaiting CASA determination.

12/02/19 to 13/05/19 Interim Approval expiring midnight 13/05/19.

03/05/19 to 01/07/19 Extension of Interim Approval to midnight 01/07/19.(Company transferred just prior to expiry of this final interim approval, the CASA CEO led me to believe that there would be no more extensions,



It is important to appreciate the impact of these interim approvals on the business. Had those restrictions In October 2018, after twelve years of operation, and 18 months after CASA had revalidated APTA to continue to provide multi base operations, CASA writes to me and advises that I have 7 days certainty of operations, that I am operating unlawfully, and subject to regulatory action.



CASA also placed an Administrative “freeze” on all pending regulatory tasks. I was unable to process applications. The impact of this was significant. I had a number of projects that were essential to operations and CASA would not process, these included freezes on CASA processing applications for Key Personnel that were essential to increasing oversight and control to prepare for anticipated growth of the Organisation.



Refusal to process additional courses to be added. These were courses that we were fully entitled to add on to our capability.



A new flight simulator laying idle for many months, as CASA would not process the application for its approval until the matter of contracts was resolved.



This was very clearly a variation of an AOC, and a very significant one i.e. short term interim approval to operate, and a freeze applied on all regulatory tasks. The CASA Enforcement Manual clearly outlines the procedures that should have been followed. by CASA. These procedures are outlined in CASA manuals to ensure compliance with administrative law, natural justice, and procedural fairness. These procedures were completely bypassed in CASAs’ dealing with me on these matters. CASA have a particular format for a Show Cause Notice (SCN). None was ever issued. This was one of the many breaches of procedures that should have been followed when varying my AOC. This document also outlines CASAs Regulatory Philosophy. In CASA dealings with me they demonstrated a flagrant disregard for the obligations placed on them to act professionally. Enforcement Manual (casa.gov.au)



For clarity, CASA initially advised me that they were going to close down the business and that what I was doing was unlawful.



The impact is immediate:



· First and foremost, enormous reputational damage is done to me personally and immediately. Until this point in time, I have been of the view that CASA is supportive of APTA. They helped me design the systems, assessed the systems, approved the systems, audited the systems and in fact recommended APTA to flying schools. I have led customers to believe that APTA is fully CASA approved, as it is. The notice that APTA has as little as 7 days to continue operating brings enormous harm to the businesses, staff, customers, students and suppliers that are dependent on the APTA. Those people depending on me, understandably have concerns that I have involved them in something that is not CASA approved. The implications on those entities are significant.



· The flying schools are no longer able to enrol students. Courses for the Commercial Pilot Licence which comprise 95% of the business’s revenue, typically take 18 months. This CASA action occurred at the very time the business attracts new students considering their options after finishing High School. No person will enrol in a school with CASA action pending and only 7 days surety of operations.



· My own flying school Melbourne Flight Training that I have been operating for 12 years has suddenly been declared an unauthorised operation by CASA, and I have been advised that I will most likely be subject to regulatory action. This is simply ridiculous. My school operates in exactly the same awy it has for more than a decade. This action is inexplicable. Multiple requests to CASA to have this explained have not been answered. This cannot possibly be justified.



· The parent Company APTA is unable to attract new flying schools to join. CASA has determined that the model is now unlawful. The structure costs approximately $1,000,000 per annum to run, and is dependent on ten contributing members. I have members wanting to join, but CASA refuses to process new applications. Customers waiting to join have their confidence in APTA impacted as they are placed on hold. Bases that CASA has previously approved will have their approvals reversed.



· The entire reputation and credibility of APTA and me, are immediately called into question. I have a number of Entities that are wholly dependent on APTA for their continued operation. The initial correspondence from CASA leads me to believe that CASA is not only refusing previous approvals but reversing existing approvals i.e. my own flying school of more than a decade has suddenly been declared an “unauthorised operation” and CASA advises “if APTA has facilitated these Companies operating in contravention of the above provisions, it would be a party to such contraventions.” It was simply ludicrous that my own school could be deemed an unauthorised operation. My initial written response is attached as Appendix A



· Existing APTA members who have previously been approved by CASA have now had their approvals reversed. By joining APTA, they now have a situation that their continuing operations are wholly dependent on APTAs approval that has now been cut back to 7 days I the future. The CASA correspondence leaves little doubt that it is more likely than not, that APTA will be closed down, with that, their own businesses will be forced into closure. The



· Existing students in the flying schools become concerned. They have commenced their training, and now their education provider has only 7 days certainty of operations. Understandably they consider options at other Registered Training Organisations (RTO) for the balance of their training. APTA/MFT had been a Registered Training Organisation RTO 22508 with an impeccable audit history, and the highest levels of compliance. An obligation on me as the owner of that RTO and the responsible person, is that I do not enrol students into a course that I may not be able to deliver.



· The business is seeking to add new talent to the Organisation in preparation for projected growth. I am unable to enter into employment contracts with new staff. A recent course of graduates with an expectation of employment on graduation have now lost that opportunity.



· CASA has placed an administrative freeze on all regulatory tasks. I have applications with CASA for the addition of new Key personnel, addition of new flight simulators, and new courses needing to be added to cater for business demands. All of these projects grind to a halt. The impact on the business is substantial. CASA should not have placed these tasks on hold, as they were essential for the business, essential to increase oversight, and essential to increase quality outcomes.



· Existing staff become concerned about the security of their respective livelihoods. Their employer has been given only 7 days’ notice of continuity of operations. Many of these employees have been with me since I opened the business more than a decade ago. Whilst CASA did issue several short-term approvals, the staff become increasingly concerned. They know that cashflow has been impacted, and that new students are not signing up. Obviously, they become concerned for their future.



· As a Registered Training Organisation, I have legal obligations on me, not to enrol students if I cannot deliver a course of training.



· International Students planning to move to Australia to train with the Organisation, have to be contacted and told to put their plans on hold. This alone creates an enormous amount of instability.



· Suppliers that I have long established relationships with are impacted. Without any notification at all, and no time to plan, CASA has provided me only 7 days surety of operations. Throughout the process, I believed at all times that this matter could have been promptly resolved, as it could have been. The Suppliers gave me short term support, but like me, they did not expect this matter to drag on for a staggering 8 months.

















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Old 30th Jun 2021, 21:41
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2 or more CASA personnel, pushing the wheelbarrow of a competitor?
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 00:47
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Originally Posted by Valdiviano
2 or more CASA personnel, pushing the wheelbarrow of a competitor?
It wouldn’t be the fist time that has happened. Those of us who have spent many decades in the industry are well aware of how CASA operates and depending on ‘who you know’ you may receive favourable, or non-favourable actions from the ‘R’egulator.

As a side point, here is an example of local government malfeasance, or really ‘corruption’ is the better term. I attach the link because there will always be those who say a government or government agency wouldn’t act Out of line. If you believe that, well you also believe pigs can fly.

https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/amp....ticle/13198384

Glen, based on what I know about your case I still think CASA went after you the moment you put pen to paper and told them their delayed approval process may be jeopardising safety. However, it would be an interesting exercise, just for ****s and giggles, to see who, if anyone, has benefited from the closure of your business? Another exercise, for the purpose of filling time, might be to see who those beneficiaries are linked to by way of current or former CASA employees both past and present. After all it is a small industry and if there were any anomalies I am sure they would become apparent.

“CASA, it’s all just a game, but a very serious game”
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 01:11
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Call me paranoid, but

There are a number of reasons that CASA might have taken me off their Xmas Card list just prior to October 2018 when they shut the operation down. Reason Number One. In the middle of a house move now, into a smaller residence. Lots of tip runs, Gumtree, and moving going on. So just the one here.



I had been a vocal opponent on elements of the introduction of CASAs Part 141 and 142 legislation for many years prior to its introduction. I did this via attendance at CFI Conferences, correspondence, engagement with CASA personnel at every opportunity, and without looking up my posts from many years ago, I suggest on here.

.

Flying schools were operating under legislation that was not fit for purpose. As a flying school owner I was dealing with legislation and operational requirements that were no longer practical. Most of these pertained to matters such as supervising, mentoring, developing and ensuring quality outcomes.



Most of the applicable legislation was written before mobile telephones and the internet were used. Many on here wont remember it but, the only way a CFI could supervise when away from the office was by a landline at his home. If you were out of the house, you had to check in from a public telephone. If an accident or incident happened, you didn't know till you played back the answering machine. The weather came via fax machine, and that's how you submitted a flight plan. All student training records were handwritten entries into a record of training retained in a filing cabinet at the school. The only way to supervise a junior instructor was to be over his shoulder, and to check his work.



Advances in technology changed all that. You could mentor and supervise from anywhere in the world effectively. Review training notes, get images of aircraft, weather unserviceability's for advice and guidance, get real time weather updates, and transfer information in so many different ways that make the job so much more different today.



CASA introduced a Regulatory Reform Program for the flight training industry referred to as Part 141/142/61.



It was scheduled to be completed and fully implemented by 2005 from my memory. Hopefully a reader on here has access to the old advertising from CASA. Anyway it finally came in well over a decade behind schedule and many hundreds of millions of dollars over budget allegedly. By the time it came in over a decade behind schedule we got something that once again was outdated, not practical, negatively impacting on real safety, and costly to deliver.



I opposed some of the changes that were proposed.



First CASA proposed the two Commercial Pilot Licenses continue as they are now. A 150 hour option or a 200 hour option. CASA proposed that if a pilot on a 150 hour course didn't complete his PPL component in 6 months (from memory) and his CPL within 15 months from commencement, then he would not be able to continue on the 150 hour course and have to complete a 200 hour course. Whilst i saw some merit in what CASA was trying to achieve it had significant flaws.



In my communication with CASA i used the Tasmanian school as an example. A student is coming towards the tail end of his training, and the weather in unusually bad compared to previous years, and the already tight 15 month program seems likely to blow out by a month. There was to be no consideration, That student would be forced to do an additional 50 hours flying at a cost of approximately $10,000. What does that commercial pressure do to decision making. Does the school and student feel pressured to push the margins to try and complete the course on time. There were a number of scenarios. I just didn't think that a fixed date increased safety at all. After all the test is the test. If you are at test standard at 150 hours even if it is just outside the 15 months, the transfer to the 200 hour course seemed unreasonable. After all we are testing competency. That the important point. Mandating an additional 50 hours seemed unreasonable. Common sense prevailed and this change did not go ahead.



My second objection to Part 141 and 142 was not successful, and it went through in a format that i thought was unfair on smaller schools and those in regional areas.



Without going into the background here, Australia has two different Commercial Pilot Licenses as i said before. i.e. the 150 hour course and the 200 hour course. What's the difference. 50 hours and GST on the 200 hour course. The similarities are more noticeable. Both candidates train to the same syllabus. They do identical CASA theory exams, they can get trained by the same instructor, they can do the test with the same examiner to exactly the same standard, the same paperwork goes off to CASA and the identical pilot license is issued, not even indicating whether the candidate got there in 150 hours or via the 200 hour course.



Under the new regulations the 141 school could only deliver the 200 hour CPL, and the 150 hour CPL is the exclusive domain of the larger Part 142 schools. Whilst i don't have access to current figures, i suggest that there isn't an Australian Owned flying school with Part 142 capability in regional Australia.



My argument was that if its competency-based training with all of the same requirements, surely any candidate who meets the competencies should be entitled to conduct the flight test at 150 hours. Why would the smaller rural school with only part 141 capability have to deliver an additional 50 hours training? This would only encourage rural kids commencing training to move away from the regional 141 schools towards the city based 142 schools. This seemed to me to be an unreasonable new stipulation, that would only further fuel the decline of general aviation in rural areas. For clarity, I had to head down the path of the 142, otherwise i was going to lose access to my 90% of my revenue, being the 150-hour CPL. My interest in this matter was that despite it potentially benefitting my own organization, it would lead to increased difficulties for regional aero clubs and businesses, and lead to students gravitating away from the smaller Australian Owned businesses to the larger schools which are increasingly under the control of foreign ownership.



I thought my argument was valid, I was passionate about the Australian Owned sector of the industry, and I robustly put forward my case. Unfortunately, I gave Mr. Barnaby Joyce a bit of an emotional display at the Tamworth rally on this topic.



Anyway, that's one reason that I may have annoyed someone high up in CASA.



Last edited by glenb; 1st Jul 2021 at 02:45.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 01:16
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Originally Posted by Paragraph377
It wouldn’t be the fist time that has happened. Those of us who have spent many decades in the industry are well aware of how CASA operates and depending on ‘who you know’ you may receive favourable, or non-favourable actions from the ‘R’egulator.

As a side point, here is an example of local government malfeasance, or really ‘corruption’ is the better term. I attach the link because there will always be those who say a government or government agency wouldn’t act Out of line. If you believe that, well you also believe pigs can fly.

https://www.google.com.au/amp/s/amp....ticle/13198384

Glen, based on what I know about your case I still think CASA went after you the moment you put pen to paper and told them their delayed approval process may be jeopardising safety. However, it would be an interesting exercise, just for ****s and giggles, to see who, if anyone, has benefited from the closure of your business? Another exercise, for the purpose of filling time, might be to see who those beneficiaries are linked to by way of current or former CASA employees both past and present. After all it is a small industry and if there were any anomalies I am sure they would become apparent.

“CASA, it’s all just a game, but a very serious game”
I think after the bugging of the Timor Leste government offices, the subsequent availing of high paid jobs or consultancies with the private company that stood to benefit by those that made the decision(s) (including one particular ex Minister whom juicemedia referred to as a 'useless sack of sh-t', the same one that when his daughter didn't get elected, practically called the voters idiots) and the subsequent persecution and secret trials of Witness K and Bernard Collaery as well as the persecution of journalists for reporting the truth.... for example, in addition to the TL bugging; consideration of raiding journalists by PD to find who leaked the Au Pair info, raiding of journalists for reporting the truth - or what appears to be shaping up as truth - regarding murder of innocents in a war zone, robodebt and other scandals, we probably don't need any convincing that at the very least, this government is rotten to the core and malfeasance is its middle name.......

Actually, there's a thought, perhaps juice media could do one of its 'Honest Government Ads' on Glen's situation.......
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 01:56
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This is why the major parties are in such a 'hurry' to establish a Commonwealth Integrity Commission with real teeth!
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 02:27
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Originally Posted by Lead Balloon
This is why the major parties are in such a 'hurry' to establish a Commonwealth Integrity Commission with real teeth!
Well, one is, the other two reel in fear of it because they know it will expose even more of their bastardry....
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 02:46
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Back to the topic...

Glen

Can I suggest that whenever you send voluminous material about your case to anyone, you add this at the start:

"Background

My business and livelihood were effectively destroyed in 2019 when someone in the Civil Aviation Safety Authority woke up one morning and decided to conjure up some law that does not exist. Up until that point, CASA was aware of the detail and had approved of the operations of the safe and successful flying training organisation I was continuing to build.

The law that someone in CASA conjured up was this:

"The operational and organisational arrangements contemplated by CASR 141 [and Part 142] are based on a conventional business model, under which all of the operational activities conducted by the authorisation holder are carried out, for and behalf of the authorisation holder by persons employed by, and in all respects as agents of, the authorisation holder."

That statement sounds really impressive but is, in reality, rubbish.

Why didn't I take legal action against CASA? Because I could not afford to take on an organisation that has a longstanding reputation for using whatever tactics it can to drive people into the ground when it chooses to.

I am hoping that, by bringing these matters to your attention, you might be able to assist me in righting the wrong that has been done to me by CASA. The detailed factual background and supporting material for what I have said, follows."

Although you are across all of the gory and painful detail, others who come to the matter 'cold' will, I reckon, be helped by a 'big hands small maps' explanation of what your grievance is about.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 03:54
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Lead balloon. How about this 1 of 2

I concur Lead Balloon, i actually like your introduction and will embed it. Below is a work in progess but would be keen on any feedback.


Dear (media representative)

#TheCanberraBubble has emerged as the buzz term when it comes to describing Parliament House and the government’s apparent dysfunctional culture. Facing accusations of gender inequity in its ranks, a barrage of sexual assault and harassment claims, allegations of corruption, bullying and intimidatory behaviour, and public sentiment that Australia’s ruling bodies are ‘out of touch’ with the general population, the government stumbles along through scandal after scandal, often dragging the executive and judiciaries of our democracy with it.

In amongst the turmoil, in November 2020, the Senate Standing Committee’s General Aviation Inquiry, heard allegations of misfeasance in public office against (principally three) long-standing public servants from senior management at the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA); including Shane Carmody, the then Director of Aviation Safety, Jonathan Aleck, Executive Manager of Legal, International and Regulatory Services, and Graeme Crawford, Manager of CASA’s Aviation Group. The same individuals that were the subject of an investigation by ABC 7.30 Report (Adele Ferguson and Chris Gillett - October 2018) into CASA’s behaviour in the matter of Bruce Rhoade’s fatal aircraft crash in January 2017 in Western Australia.

The forty minutes of testimony that Mr Glen Buckley, former Director of APTA (Australian Pilot Training Alliance) provided to the Senate Committee, is a snapshot, he alleges, of the depth of wrongdoing and abject failure of the safety regulatory authority to discharge its obligations to his company, the Australian public, and to the aviation industry. The impact of the alleged wrongdoing is substantial having resulted in a number of business closures, loss of associated jobs, and the loss of many millions of dollars to the entities affected.

Under the democratic principle of the ‘trias politica’ - the separation of powers - each arm of democracy (the parliament, the executive, and the judiciary) should have the power to govern, but also be kept in check by the power of the other arms. The democratic principle is the purposeful dissolution of power to ensure the integrity of all.

This principle, as demonstrated by Glen’s story detailed below, is not the modus operandi of CASA. In effect, a law unto itself, it develops the regulations, often as delegated legislation with no parliamentary oversight or control. It has absolute power to govern those regulations. It has the power to decide whether those regulations have been broken. And it has the power to decide the fate of those under its control. CASA, or more specifically, those in power within it, took a mere matter of months to destroy Glen’s 25-year flight-training career.

Aviation is weather dependent; and it is a brave aviator indeed that flies in ill weather. Glen’s story lays bare the actions of an industry regulator, primarily facilitated by those individuals at the helm, behaving like an ill wind to whomever it chooses. A regulator acting at personal will, and without tangible accountability.

With recent changes at CASA’s helm, perhaps now is the time for this story.



Aviation is one of the most regulated industries in the world. From the airline industry to general, sport and even unmanned aviation, no pilot or flight organisation escapes the rules. Rule number one is ‘Safety First’. Rule number two is See Rule One. Rule number three is Comply with Rule Number One and Rule Number Two at all cost. The economics of rules one and two are, for Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority, not of paramount concern. With a pot of public money that pays no urgent heed of time, and a legal team to match, the organisation can focus on rules one and two with scant regard for rule three. It has the money and time to afford and protect its self-interests, and to take a far more measured and considered approach to its actions than the often cash-strapped tax-paying organisations that it oversees. Public perception that anyone involved in aviation is just a ‘rich dude with toys’, although occasionally true, is far from the front-line reality. General aviation in particular, maintenance providers, flight training schools, joy flight operators, private charter organisations, and the like, are, more truthfully, a labour of love.

And in Australia, Glen Buckley was one of those front-line tax-paying organisations labouring away at what he loved. A key general aviation industry participant, his Moorabbin-based, registered flight training organisation, Melbourne Flight Training, had an exemplary reputation, with a team of 25 employees and instructors, and included the necessary approvals to train overseas students. The school also had a safety record the envy of industry for the duration of its operation under his tenure. Glen was living the aviation dream. Glen was also respected by industry as an advocate for general aviation, publicly opposing the regulator on occasion, sometimes passionately.

In 2017, driven by CASA’s regulatory overhaul to the flight training organisation certification requirements, Glen used the opportunity to totally overhaul his businesess, The Australian Pilot Training Alliance, and his flying school of more than a decade. MFT impressing the industry, and, evidently, many in CASA. The business addressed industry’s economic concerns regarding the new administrative burdens without compromising rules one and two.

But, it seems, not everyone in CASA was happy with Glen.

From September 2018 to October 2019, Glen believes that key senior personnel from CASA launched an attack on the new business – and it went from ‘all systems go’ to ‘dead in the water’ in twelve months. Glen’s dream had crashed and burned. The organisation’s demise not due to poor management, economic mismanagement, a series of unfortunate events, an industry crisis or a financial crisis (historically the usual suspects) or even a one-in-a-hundred-year pandemic. APTA’s unravelling was insidious and defied logic, beginning with a single, devastating blow from the regulator itself, and then an unrelenting series of strategically-placed cuts. The full story has more twist and turns than an entire season of Dynasty, and, if Glen’s testimony is to be believed, points to a very sour problem with some past and present senior management of Australia’s aviation safety authority - CASA.



Below is Glen’s story.




An ill wind blows nobody any good.

The first inklings of a catastrophic storm building over Glen Buckley’s fertile patch of the aviation industry began a long time ago. In the early 2000s, CASA began drafting regulatory changes that would significantly alter the flight training school landscape in Australia. After more than a decade of development, it became clear to industry that the proposed legislation, although widely accepted as necessary, would cause significant and often prohibitive financial and regulatory burden on Australia’s grassroots flight-training organisations. Many of the schools likely to be most affected would be the quintessential Aussie ‘mum-and-dad’ businesses, time-poor and financially ill-equipped to afford the implementation and sustainment of the proposed weighty changes. Many of them did not survive, and many of those operated from regional and rural areas; their demise accelerating an historical overall decline in the General Aviation ecosystem in Australia that continues to this day.

At smaller than airline-industry airfields, no flight school means less aeroplanes flying on a regular basis. No aeroplanes regularly in the sky means less work for a maintenance facility. No maintenance facility means private pilots are less likely to hangar their aircraft at the airfield. Less private aircraft in hangars means less income for regional airfields, accelerating a weakening in investment and upkeep. Reduced airfield income means less aviation industry organisations drawn to the field due to lack of available industry services and potentially greater safety risks to aircraft, pilots, and passengers. Not a good outcome by any measure.

Further, a decline in the health of regional and rural airfields may mean private aircraft owners are forced onto metropolitan fields, where yes, facilities are available, but also increased hangarage demand. Flight training, too, would be forced to concentrate at metropolitan airfields. More flight-training and private aircraft owners at metropolitan airfields means more small aeroplanes and their (perceived) safety concerns, over dense suburbs. The changes proposed by CASA, according to Glen, held the potential to further degrade the aviation ecosystem and drive the system towards failures. To the viewing public, failure in aviation looks like aircraft accidents; prime-time viewing that the regulator, the government, and especially the industry, would rather avoid.

Glen had been in aviation for decades. He knew the system was a diaspora, a population geographically scattered, and that the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. Australia, the land of wide-open plains and rugged mountain ranges, relies on a web of remote, rural, regional, and metropolitan airfields. The health of the system relies on the people that work at, and on, those airfields. It relies on the organisations that fly from and to, those airfields. And, the industry relies on the regulator to govern the system; to ensure the safety of all the humans and the aircraft in the system and the public that use the system. But should the system rely on the regulator to manage the business concerns of those in the system? To the extent of its impact on air safety, perhaps. To the extent of deciding a business structure or model, perhaps not. Creating income in aviation is one thing, creating income safely, as is the foremost concern of all things aviation-regulated, is quite another, and the aviation industry is one of the most-regulated industries around.

Although Glen’s business, Melbourne Flight Training, was metropolitan-based and as a standalone organisation stood to ultimately benefit from the demise of smaller, remote flight-training schools, Glen was never one to shy away from advocating for his beloved industry. He knew that, although at times factious and fractious, the entire industry relies on each part’s survival. He believed that many of the regional and more remote flight-training operators would not survive under the new regulations, and that the ripple of small failures would potentially disrupt the entire industry, creating a less safe environment for all.

More administrative staff, more paperwork, more reporting, meant less time in the air for instructors; less time doing the one thing that a flight-training business needed to survive; creating income and doing so with safety, not paperwork, dictating the time frame. Glen saw the incoming tsunami of paperwork, reporting and compliance costs looming darkly on his business’ horizon. He fought hard against the changes; his active and vocal opposition to the regulator’s legislative proposals is one of public record. Unfortunately, one that, it seems, would come back to haunt him.

Not known for complacency, Glen began thinking outside the box. How to build a business that would weather the impending storm? One that, as required by CASA, focussed on safety first but was still financially viable? Also never one to turn his back on others, Glen knew there could be strength in numbers, and it was from this premise that he turned his mind to creating a business with the following three elements:

1. Getting instructors into the aircraft and focussed on teaching the student (instruction creates income),

2. enlisting a team of specialists to perform the regulatory actions needed to fulfil CASA’s compliance requirements for all alliance members (a major expense), and simulatneously providing members access to a well funded safety department.

3. spreading the administrative expense of compliance across more than one organisation, significantly reducing the expense of 2 to each alliance member.

The industry knew that the old system had its flaws; the ‘lending’ of Air Operator’s certificates, and the ‘borrowing’ of instructors from other off-site flight-training organisations in adhoc scenarios, that, in reality, afforded both companies no real safety oversight. Operators did this because their organisation simply couldn’t afford, or didn’t have the amount of work for, a full-time Chief Instructor, a full-time Safety Officer, or a designated administrator. Many rural operators simply couldn’t attract qualified personnel to rural areas to ensure continued operations.

The current rules for flying school operations and the control of flying schools were hopelessly outdated and written before the advent of mobile phones and the internet. Quite simply the rules were decades behind the advances in technology.It was, for the most part, why CASA was changing the rules. [AS3] And, they were wielding a big stick; change to the new rules before 1 September 2017, or being forced into closure after that date.

Glen understood that CASA was driving change to address what it saw as a failure of the system. But he also believed that CASA had adopted a safety-at-all-cost attitude, a cost many organisations would not be able to afford. The new regulations significantly increased the burden, requiring unacceptable diversion of resources, to tasks that did nothing to improve safety or quality outcomes,Glen, however, sensed the situation had a potential win-win for the regulator and for the industry; a chance for organisations to operate in a way that made the adhoc system safer; transparent, documented, stable, and more efficient without the consequences of business-failures and their inevitable detrimental effects on the aviation ecosystem. The system involved organisations working collaboratively to increase safety and compliance. Together the organisations had access to the largest safety department of any flying school in Australia.

So, as the saying goes, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Glen contacted CASA and put forward his concept. CASA welcomed Glen’s model with open arms, even so far as to allocate many hundreds of hours of CASA personnel to assist in its development; a total of ten employees from CASA over the course of two years were meaningfully involved. Back and forth between Glen and CASA went the model; information, advice, revisions, amendments, and paperwork for 600 requirements, slowly working towards the definitive document (the Exposition) that would allow his new business to operate. Given the business model was not too different from the current practices of larger flight training organisations, and what he was doing was simply formalising what many in the industry were already doing that CASA had previously tacitly sanctioned, Glen trusted the governing authority to act in good faith. Even to the extent of providing the regulator with commercial-in-confidence documents such as the proposed business contracts for alliance members. Glen was incredibly grateful for the professional assistance and advice of CASA in developing his Exposition.

With CASA well and truly on board, and after an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars of his own money, Glen (and CASA) had built APTA; The Australian Pilot Training Alliance. CASA hadn’t simply been consulted, APTA had been built on approved CASA material, on hours and hours of extensive consultation, on good faith and mutual aims. Every one of the many hundreds of procedures was fleshed out with CASA personnel, assessed by CASA personnel, and signed off by CASA personnel, before undergoing a peer review within CASA. The system gaining full CASA approval in April of 2017.

It is also well known that CASA has an active and eager legal department; Legal, International & Regulatory Affairs. CASA employees do not make big decisions autonomously and without context; there are processes and approvals and implications to be considered. When CASA makes a decision, it makes an informed decision. A very well-informed decision. It would be remiss to not stress this enough. CASA is an organisation of educated, well-informed, aviation and legal personnel whose ultimate purpose is to ensure the safety of pilots and public. The organisation takes its responsibility to oversee safety in the aviation industry very seriously, at whatever, it considers necessary, cost.

But CASA didn’t simply advise and consult and provide quality information through its wide-angle legal-context lens to Glen over those two years of development; CASA also recommended a number of rural and regional flight training organisations that would benefit from being a part of APTA. Alliances were forged, organisations joined the cause, CASA appeared to be smiling down upon it all; APTA was set to be a working model. Five organisations, one administrative setup, expensive expert personnel employed to fulfil CASA’s new compliance and safety requirements, and an IT system that provided 360-degree oversight of flight safety, all using CASA-provided manuals and compliance systems. Of note, is that the system was set up so that CASA could, at any point, log onto and be an active part of the system. At any moment CASA could see exactly what APTA was doing in relation to flight training, from flight and aircraft records to staff training, communications, and instruction delivery. A first for the flight training industry, providing total transparency, full oversight, and all with CASA’s blessing.

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Old 1st Jul 2021, 03:58
  #1670 (permalink)  
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and 2 of 2

Too good to be true comes to mind.

In April 2017, CASA approved APTA. Four months before CASA’s September deadline for transition to the new rules.

Glen thought he was on a winner. The new rules hadn’t come into force for the industry yet. He was ahead of the game. In a field of what had been around 350 organisations, he now had a mere 12 competitors that were also approved. Ready to roll it all out, he had CASA on side and assurances from the authority that they wouldn’t extend any deadline. So far ahead of the game, who wouldn’t want to be that business? Glen, and his alliance organisations, stepped fully into their gold-standard business.

Then, just weeks after certifying APTA as a fully-fledged flight training organisation under the new rules, CASA moved the goal posts. The storm had begun to brew.

Whereas it is said that all is fair in love and war, the same is not said for business. There are rules by which businesses must abide or face consequences. Both federal and state laws exist; fair trading, insider trading, trading whilst insolvent. CASA’s remit, however, is not the business of business, it is not concerned with competitive economics. The industry needed flight training organisations able to safely comply with the new rules, and safety is paramount. To be fair, CASA really had little option. Rightly or wrongly, in August 2017, the vast majority of flight training organisations were simply not ready. Faced with a tsunami of flight training organisations potentially in breach of the Act, CASA extended the ‘big stick’ date by a year. Glen was dismayed.

In striving to be ahead of the game, Glen had employed the experts, setup the software, invested over 200k, and was working the new system. The two training organisations that made the business an alliance, Melbourne Flight Training and TVSA Pilot Training at Bacchus Marsh, as approved by CASA, were also heavily invested. Working the new rules and operating a flight training curriculum that wasn’t required for another 12 months, however, was costly. Very costly for all involved; except CASA that is. But then CASA is not in the business of making money – and rightly so. But Glen’s business, before the real game had even started, was now operating under financial pressures not of its own, or even force majeure, creation.

Being on the back foot is never a good position for a business. The aim was always to grow, to offer others the opportunities of safety and the efficiencies and opportunities that APTA presented. They say there is always opportunity in a crisis, so Glen sucked up the cost, borrowing heavily from his family, and got on with funding the associated salaries and procedures for the next 12 months whilst waiting for the postponed legislation to be introduced. He figured it would only be a matter of time before everyone caught up, therefore, best to be on the front foot.

In November 2017, APTA was due for its first big CASA audit, called a Level One. This meant a week-long review of APTA’s operations. Happily for Glen, it passed, along with the alliance’s bases, MFT at Moorabbin, TVSA at Bacchus Marsh, and, significantly, the temporary bases, AVIA and Learn to Fly, both at Moorabbin. No concerns were raised about the business model or its operations. As far as the business was concerned, CASA’s audit had further provided confirmation that APTA had dotted all its I’s crossed all its T’s. Glen saw a future.

CASA had previously suggested a number of other aero clubs and training organisations to Glen that might fit into his business model. Latrobe Valley Aero Club was one of those small, rural flight-training organisations struggling to fit into CASA’s new rules. It looked at Glen’s business model and saw a good option. After CASA raised a number of issues with Latrobe Valley operations that were subsequently rectified, Latrobe Valley began operating under APTA’s umbrella on 21 May 2018, via a CASA-approved ‘Temporary Base Procedure’; a procedure that had been recommended to Glen by CASA. It allowed a flight-training organisation to continue operating under the full operational control of APTA whilst CASA assessed the application to approve ongoing and permanent operations. Incredibly CASA would later try and allege that the very procedure they reccommened was unlawful. This was a standard and well-utilised industry practice, and Glen was confident that, in collaboration with CASA, Latrobe Valley could become another alliance member.

Those patches of grey cloud on the horizon, however, were coalescing .

CASA’s personnel operated in teams referred to as a Certificate Management Team (CMT). A system that CASA found ineffective at delivering standardised policy application and only recently disbanded. May 2018 heralded the arrival of a new Regional Manager and subsequent reshuffling of the existing team members assigned to manage each flight training organisation’s certificate. Glen’s old team had been pivotal to the successful development of the APTA business model. The new team, of eight inspectors and a manager, however, exhibited two concerning characteristics. The first being that one member of the new team had an established reputation in the industry as someone “not being professional to work with”.

Glens concerns were so significant that he requested a formal one on one, ON the record meeting with the CASA Regional Manager. The meeting proceeded and Glens concerns were noted. Although Glen was unable to return to the CASA team, he had worked with for the previous decade, he at least felt some security in the fact that he had formally raised his concerns and they would now be held on file within CASA.

The second was that communication from the new CASA management team began to dry up and any communications that did exist had a very different “feel” about them; His concerns were also shared with his Management Team.Glen found this more than a little worrisome. He began to wonder whether the new team either hadn’t received a substantive handover from the old team regarding APTA, or, because the model was ‘different’, they simply didn’t understand it. Or perhaps the team member that wasn’t a fan, was causing some friction? Glen wasn’t surprised to find out later that the CASA employee he previously formalised his concerns about, was one of the “key players” in initiating the CASA action.

Regardless, Glen, with no real evidence to back up a niggling feeling of unease, proceeded with his business plan. He continued marketing the new business as a successful, working model and moving amongst aviation circles, spreading the word. By early 2018, aeroclubs and training facilities as far as Brisbane, Darwin and Ballina were either interested or already operating under APTA temporary base procedure. Although on the back foot financially and with now with 60 approved competitors, things were still looking up for APTA in mid-2018, as the bulk of the industry played catch-up as they headed towards the revised big-stick deadline.

In June 2018, APTA sent in the paperwork to CASA for Latrobe Valley and Ballarat Aero Clubs to be formalised as permanent operating bases of APTA (rather than temporary). CASA had already approved several schools to operate under APTA, so felt confident there would be no significant hurdles.Then, in August 2018, APTA also asked to add a new base for Learn to Fly at Moorabbin who already had a base operating under APTA and Whitestar Aviation which was to be a new base in Ballina. The addition of permanent locations were considered to be significant changes to the Exposition – the document that CASA had helped Glen build. Glen followed every CASA approved procedure in his Exposition.

The next big compliance hurdle, however, was for Latrobe Valley to undergo its Temporary Base audit, this being part of the CASA approved procedure in order to move from a Temporary base to a Permanent base. APTA welcomed the CASA team to Latrobe Valley on 3 September 2018 and the audit went well. An exit interview is required by the regulations and any concerns regarding the operation must be raised at this onsite exit meeting; that is, on the day. None were raised, the team left, everyone was happy – or so it seemed. Latrobe Valley, with a clean bill of health, was left to continue to operate under the Temporary Base procedure and move towards permanently joining the business.

But, that niggling unease? The grey clouds on the horizon? On the 23rd of October 2018, they turned into a storm.

Without any sign, signal, or warning, the winds changed dramatically. CASA pivoted 180 degrees on its official position on APTA’s business model. On that Thursday morning, APTA’s Group Head of Operations received a carefully considered and worded email from CASA, with the subject; “A Notice of Proposal Refusal to Approve Significant Changes to Exposition and Operations Manuals”.

The ramifications of that notification were significant. The correspondence advised that in 7 days time CASA would most likely make a determination that APTA would not be able to continue operating.

The notification also advised that Glens own flying school of more than a decade was now inexplicably an unauthorised operation, both Ballarat Aero Clubs and Latrobe Valley Aero Clubs would be directed to cease operations, strangely LTF Moorabbin base could not move to its new and improved facility but would be permitted to continue operating from its smaller and inferior facility, AVIA which was already a fully CASA approved base would have its approval reversed, ARC aviation currently operating as a Temporary location would be directed to cease operations, as would Whitestar base in Ballina. New applications for Simjet, and Vortex would not be processed, and no further customers could join. The notification also advised that he was in contravention of the Aviation Ruling, and the Regulations, and may be subject to CASA enforcement action. Both the Ombudsman and CASAs own legal advice received much later, indicated that in fact he was not in breach of the regulations. A fact that Glen was well awre of. Unfortunately both the Ombudsman’s determination and CASA own legal advice arrived too late.

The entire notification came with no prior warning. One can only imagine the feelings that would have overwhelmed Glen when he received the notification. Not only was he about to lose his own flying school, he had inadvertently dragged many others down with him.

Despite historical support for the business model, CASA pointed to an Aviation Ruling (an advisory setting out CASA’s policy or position on a particular issue) regarding the franchising of commercial operations, purportedlydisallowing APTA. Just like that. In October 2018. Not during all those discussions? Not three years before, during the development phase, when CASA was made aware of the franchise model? Not before approving the model in April 2017 and granting the new-rule, ‘Part 141/142 Certificate’? Glen was stunned. What CASA was proposing was that an Aviation Ruling from March 2006, when the ruling had been written for air charter operations, and subsequent amendments to the Civil Aviation Act in 2014 had seenflight-training organisations specifically excluded from that part of the Act. An Aviation Ruling, that did not apply to his business, was apparently being used to blow shut the school’s doors.

The email also stated that any of the organisations or temporary bases operating flight-training from locations other than APTA’s head office at Moorabbin, were likely in contravention of the Act, and further that, as APTA had facilitated the contravention, it may face ‘enforcement action’. APTA had a mere seven days to respond or most likely be stripped of its certification . And if it did try to state its case, it had to provide the relevant contracts with alliance organisations that proved APTA was the official on-site operator of the flight-training organisation at each of those locations. Only Glen had already provided the relevant master documents of alliance member’s contractual arrangements with APTA to CASA, on a number of occasions during the previous two years. A fact CASA initially denied until he was able to provide evidence. All CASA were really missing were the signatures,

Ignoring for a moment the legal integrity or otherwise of CASA’s email, what its shift in direction really signified and where it bore the greatest immediate implication, having effectively placed APTA on one week’s notice of impending closure, was Glen suddenly had nothing to sell. Without a legally-operating business structure in a highly regulated industry, Glen effectively had nothing. The email, although it wasn’t expressly worded as such, was a death warrant for the business. The actual execution, however, was still nearly 12 months away. Glen, at this point, had simply been hung out to dry. Slowly. In a very ill wind.

The implications of CASA’s decision to reject the business model as ‘disallowed’, slammed into Glen. Those pesky laws that businesses need abide by to legally operate? With just seven-day’s notice of the possible termination of APTA, how could Glen legally, let alone morally, continue to take on, or allow his temporary bases to take on, new students? If students had no certainty of finishing their training and being issued a license, why on earth would they train with APTA? How could he legally, let alone morally, take new alliance members on board? With APTA potentially unable to continue operating, why would new members even look at his model? And how could he legally, let alone morally, continue to operate at a cost of more than $20,000 a week when income, already an issue, with no new students moving through the system, was suddenly looking dire? What would the lawmakers have to say about that?

And Glen certainly couldn’t simply pretend to his members that he hadn’t received it, keep half a dozen bases operating under the pretence that everything was going to be OK, send back the requisite paperwork and hope for the best. Aside from Glen’s personal expectation of integrity, aviation is a small industry. To threaten the closure of that number of flight-training bases, everyone would know within minutes and confidence in his business would be lost immediately, and his hard earned reputation would be in tatters.

Glen immediately spoke to the bases and his employees and powered on. He advised CASA they already had the master contracts, but also provided copies with signatures. Glen also requested more information from CASA as to how to move forward and rectify the perceived issues. Then Glen rang and spoke to David Jones, the new Regional Manager. According to Glen, Mr Jones said he wasn’t really ‘all over the matter’, but strangely, he had signed the letter. Mr Jones said he would organise a team meeting to ‘bring him up to speed’. A seven-day notice of termination of a sizeable business had been delivered to the organisation but the person signing the letter of proposed termination, needed to be ‘brought up to speed’?

CASA had also contended, that their legal department had not, until now, been aware of the franchised structure of the business. An extraordinary claim given that, as one of the very first flight-training schools to be issued with the new training certificate, APTA would hardly have been able to slide under the radar. If anything, it would have been the subject of much closer legal and regulatory scrutiny.

Glen pushed CASA to admit that the 2006 Aviation Ruling did not apply to flight-training organisations. For a full nine weeks, whilst CASA deliberated, Glen was allowed to operate, basically haemorrhaging cash. CASA then admitted the Ruling didn’t apply, checked its wind, and changed tack.

Temporary Base procedures became the problem. CASA asserted that the procedure it had developed, and further, approved APTA to operate the LFT and AVIA bases under, was not designed for flight training organisations. Glen pointed out the Temporary Base procedure had been included in CASA’s very own ‘how-to-set-up-a-flight-school guide’. Again, CASA permitted Glen to continue operating, further haemorrhaging cash. Then, CASA admitted the Temporary Base procedure was not an issue, checked its wind again, and changed tack.

The new Certificate Management Team finally delivered the paperwork of the audit findings for Latrobe Valley. With the Act requiring CASA to provide these findings within seven days of an audit, it had been nearly three months. Remember that exit meeting? The exit interview, as required by the regulations, where any concerns regarding the operation are to be raised? The one where the auditing team had said there were none? Well, miraculously, suddenly, there were plenty. Glen was beginning to feel that this was more than a change of heart related to his business model. But he took a deep breath and leant into this new CASA-created headwind, asking what needed to be done to rectify the problems. More weeks passed whilst Glen waited for an answer. Glen was still ‘allowed’ to operate, although exactly what he had to operate anymore, with no new clients and no new alliance members, and critically, no new income, was fast becoming uncertain.

Glen became increasingly frustrated. Time and again, in dozens of emails and phone calls, he had asked CASA what APTA needed to do to comply in order to operate. Pleading for face-to-face meetings, clarification of any alleged breaches of the Act, he begged for direction. All through November, December, then January, February and March of 2019. Time and again Glen received either no answer, a ‘you are required to fix this’ answer, or no constructive answer. Time, however, was something that CASA had plenty of and Glen had none. Infuriated by months of inaction, the purposeful dragging of bureaucratic feet, and a gut-wrenching fear of the corresponding explosion of debt, Glen’s grey skies got darker by the day.

With little apparent left to lose, Glen, feeling entirely cornered, began lashing out. His correspondences, perhaps understandably, became increasingly urgent, penned in ink the colour of frustration, and drying that ink was a whirlwind of Glen’s commitments, obligations, responsibilities, liabilities. His exasperated requests for direction and guidance from CASA, over those five months, ever more frustratingly for Glen, continued to go unanswered. Yet still, for those five months, Glen’s business and its members were allowed to ‘operate’; all the while Glen was borrowing more and more money from family to prop it all up.

CASA, either unable to unwilling to respond fruitfully to Glen’s letters, had however, found time to contact the alliance members and temporary bases, advising them they were possibly operating in contravention of the Act, that the structure of the business model was illegal. Under threat of losing their businesses entirely, APTA’s temporary bases and prospective members understandably began abandoning ship; the dismantling process had begun.

Finally, after nearly eight months of wholly unproductive to and fro, with APTA bleeding operating costs from every open wound, CASA delivered the fatal blow. In (June 2019?) it demanded that Glen’s original business, Melbourne Flight Training, be absorbed into the deconstructed APTA business. With nothing left operating as a franchised part of the business structure, nothing left in his bank account, and a huge bill of debt to his creditors and family, Glen lost all hope, selling APTA for a fraction of its previous value and became relegated to employee, CASA’s actions, or inaction, had effectively destroyed the franchise business model and removed Glen from direct operational control of even his own business.

Only weeks later, and after the loss of his two businesses, APTA and MFT, CASA wrote to his Employer directing that his continuing employment was “no longer tenable based on comments that he was making publicly”, presumably on a pilots forum called pprune, now with over ¾ million visits to Glen particular matters. Glen Buckley and Australian small business -V- CASA - PPRuNe Forums

After over a quarter of a century in the flight-training industry and twelve months battling the storm, Glen was done. He had been forced to leave the industry both a broke and broken man. None of this based on a safety issue or a regulatory breach, simply the opinion of a CASA employee.

--------------------------------



CASA’s remit as a safety regulator is to regulate the industry for safety. Its mission is ‘to promote a positive and collaborative safety culture through a fair, effective and efficient aviation safety regulatory system, supporting our aviation community’. At no point has CASA been able to prove that Glen’s business franchise model was deleterious to aviation safety. CASA has tabled no evidence to suggest that aviation safety had or has been compromised by operating in the manner of franchise as utilised by APTA. In effect, temporary bases overseen by a head office, approved by CASA, and arrangements whereby Air Operator’s Certificates are effectively shared, have more or less operated in the industry before and since the demise of Glen’s CASA-sanctioned business model. Which begs the question, why Glen?



Just months later, the Commonwealth Ombudsman found that the business structure, as operated by APTA and approved by CASA, was not illegal. Too late for Glen. Far too late. He had lost everything. In February 2021, Glen was officially declared bankrupt. Forced to leave his beloved aviation industry at age 56, he knows he cannot recover. But he can fight. And, although, in the writer’s opinion, Glen is severely traumatised by the battle lost, he is determined to fight for justice, for his reputation, and for his peace of mind. In pursuit of the truth, Glen has exhaustively demanded answers from CASA, approached the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport, Mr Michael McCormack, MP Barnaby Joyce, and the CASA Board, without success. Glen has also made Freedom of Information requests, returned almost entirely redacted. He has submitted his extensive list of complaints regarding CASA’s treatment of APTA to the Industry Complaints Commissioner and has since tabled his story and answered questions at A Senate Inquiry. Glen’s ordeal is currently being assessed by the Commonwealth Ombudsman and is the subject of ongoing legal action. Several CASA employees have now come forward and offered to tell the truth. Glen has extended an offer to the Ombudsmans Office to meet with those CASA employees to assist in his determination.



Author’s note: APTA continues to operate without any connection to Glen Buckley.













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Old 1st Jul 2021, 04:26
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Bravo Glen, a good summary of a parlous situation and outcome, It's well framed and punchy. Get it out there.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 04:36
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Cheers VNE

I got some assistance i must admit. As Lead balloon suggested i might be a bit too much in the middle of it. I got someone to look through Pprune and some other documenation to see what they came up with, and i reckon im on the right path here.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 07:09
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Not one of my better days- The Ombudsman report

In the middle of downsizing into a very small new rental property and was on a bit of a downer anyway. Just receive the following email about 30 minutes ago. Richmond better bloody win tonight. Well done Mr Aleck, you must be very proud of your good work.Our ref: 2019-713834



Dear Mr Buckley



I refer to our investigation of your complaint about the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).



On 23 December 2020 I outlined why, in my assessment, further investigation of your complaint was not warranted. I have considered the further information you have provided to us in 2021, including your comments and the attachments in your most recent email on 30 June 2021, but have decided to affirm my decision not to further investigate the complaint. Further investigation would not, in my view, result in a substantively different outcome.



As we discussed over the phone on 4 May 2021, my assessment was that CASA had provided us with a reasonable explanation for its view that it was not fully aware of the specific nature of APTA’s operations until just prior to issuing the notice in October 2018. I appreciate that in your view CASA should have been aware of the particular business structure of APTA, and therefore have noted any possible regulatory issues, well before October 2018.



As I noted in our recent phone discussion, during this investigation we asked CASA to explain whether in its view it was aware, or ought to have been aware, of the reported regulatory issues before October 2018. The material you have provided does not, in my view, indicate CASA has misled our Office about this aspect of the matter.



As I understand it, CASA’s view is that the advice you had provided to it suggested that APTA was responsible for flight training conducted at the so-called APTA training bases of members of the alliance. On examining the material you have provided, and the material provided by CASA, for the relevant period I do not believe this to be an unreasonable view in the circumstances. The specifics of APTA’s structure do not appear to have been well defined and clearly articulated in the additional material you recently provided to us. While I accept that it may have been preferable if more action had been taken to clarify APTA’s structure before the notice of October 2018, I accept that there is a not unreasonable basis for CASA’s view that it was not aware of the apparent regulatory issues posed by APTA until around that time.



I have noted in the copies of correspondence you provided on 12 May 2021:
  • Reference to changing the name of your company
  • Advice that Avia is intending to join APTA and reference to having signed contracts
  • An email where you ask CASA for a meeting
  • An email from CASA recognising APTA’s achievement of gaining Part 141 and 142 Approvals


I acknowledge the material in Appendix B of your email of 12 May 2021 includes some details about your proposal for APTA. I acknowledge your advice that this material was sent to CASA in an email on 23 June 2016, though I am unaware if CASA acknowledged receipt of the reported email. Regardless, the information in Appendix B does not clearly explain the actual structure of APTA. In my view this document is fairly vague about the likely structure and supports CASA’s view that at times the explanations you provided to it about the APTA model were ambiguous and contradictory. For instance, the document suggests that “each remain 100% our Own Businesses” yet also suggests that the AOC Holder will provide all of the “key positions”. This reported email also needs to be considered in the wider context of this matter.



For example, CASA noted that when APTA sought to add Bacchus March as a training base in November 2015 you advised it that APTA would be the operator at that time because TVSA did not have the key personnel required under the regulations. This supports CASA’s view that it was not aware of how APTA was in fact operating when it came to other alliance members given it was not given clear advice that members of the alliance would be conducting flight training on behalf of APTA or would otherwise be operating as separate entities. For instance, the Operations Manuals you submitted to CASA subsequent to the reported email of 23 June 2016 provide more detail about APTA’s structure, but do not provide clear information on this point.



I have no reason to dispute your advice that former CASA officers share your view that CASA was fully aware of how APTA was actually operating well before the notice of October 2018. However, in all the circumstances I do not consider further investigation of this aspect of the complaint warranted. I do not see a good basis to conclude that further investigation would result in uncovering material sufficient for our Office to conclude that CASA’s view is unreasonable. I also cannot see any practical outcome to further interrogating what occurred prior to the notice of October 2018 given our view is that there was a reasonable basis for issuing the notice.



Your most recent email of 30 June 2021 provided further material in support of your complaint. I note that this material is focused more on whether CASA had good reason to issue the notice and whether CASA took reasonable steps to assist you in remedying the reported issues it had identified. I note that I have seen much of this correspondence already in examining CASA’s responses to our Office. For the reasons I have previously outlined, in my view we are not in a position to be critical of the decision to issue the notice in October 2018 nor can we conclude that CASA did not provide sufficient assistance to try and resolve the issues subsequent to issuing the notice.



For the reasons outlined above, in my earlier correspondence, and during our telephone conversations on this matter, I have decided that further investigation is not warranted in all the circumstances.



If you would like to offer further comment please respond via reply email.



I appreciate that you will be disappointed in this email and in the outcome of your complaint to our Office. I understand you have been considering the potential for legal action and raising this matter with a relevant Federal MP. These options remain open to you.



Thank you for bringing your concerns to the attention of our Office.



Kind regards





Mark

Complaint Resolution Officer

COMMONWEALTH OMBUDSMAN

Phone: 1300 362 072

Email: [email protected]

Website:www.ombudsman.gov.au

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Old 1st Jul 2021, 14:26
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Originally Posted by glenb
In the middle of downsizing into a very small new rental property and was on a bit of a downer anyway. Just receive the following email about 30 minutes ago. Richmond better bloody win tonight. Well done Mr Aleck, you must be very proud of your good work.Our ref: 2019-713834



Dear Mr Buckley



I refer to our investigation of your complaint about the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).



On 23 December 2020 I outlined why, in my assessment, further investigation of your complaint was not warranted. I have considered the further information you have provided to us in 2021, including your comments and the attachments in your most recent email on 30 June 2021, but have decided to affirm my decision not to further investigate the complaint. Further investigation would not, in my view, result in a substantively different outcome.



As we discussed over the phone on 4 May 2021, my assessment was that CASA had provided us with a reasonable explanation for its view that it was not fully aware of the specific nature of APTA’s operations until just prior to issuing the notice in October 2018. I appreciate that in your view CASA should have been aware of the particular business structure of APTA, and therefore have noted any possible regulatory issues, well before October 2018.



As I noted in our recent phone discussion, during this investigation we asked CASA to explain whether in its view it was aware, or ought to have been aware, of the reported regulatory issues before October 2018. The material you have provided does not, in my view, indicate CASA has misled our Office about this aspect of the matter.



As I understand it, CASA’s view is that the advice you had provided to it suggested that APTA was responsible for flight training conducted at the so-called APTA training bases of members of the alliance. On examining the material you have provided, and the material provided by CASA, for the relevant period I do not believe this to be an unreasonable view in the circumstances. The specifics of APTA’s structure do not appear to have been well defined and clearly articulated in the additional material you recently provided to us. While I accept that it may have been preferable if more action had been taken to clarify APTA’s structure before the notice of October 2018, I accept that there is a not unreasonable basis for CASA’s view that it was not aware of the apparent regulatory issues posed by APTA until around that time.



I have noted in the copies of correspondence you provided on 12 May 2021:
  • Reference to changing the name of your company
  • Advice that Avia is intending to join APTA and reference to having signed contracts
  • An email where you ask CASA for a meeting
  • An email from CASA recognising APTA’s achievement of gaining Part 141 and 142 Approvals


I acknowledge the material in Appendix B of your email of 12 May 2021 includes some details about your proposal for APTA. I acknowledge your advice that this material was sent to CASA in an email on 23 June 2016, though I am unaware if CASA acknowledged receipt of the reported email. Regardless, the information in Appendix B does not clearly explain the actual structure of APTA. In my view this document is fairly vague about the likely structure and supports CASA’s view that at times the explanations you provided to it about the APTA model were ambiguous and contradictory. For instance, the document suggests that “each remain 100% our Own Businesses” yet also suggests that the AOC Holder will provide all of the “key positions”. This reported email also needs to be considered in the wider context of this matter.



For example, CASA noted that when APTA sought to add Bacchus March as a training base in November 2015 you advised it that APTA would be the operator at that time because TVSA did not have the key personnel required under the regulations. This supports CASA’s view that it was not aware of how APTA was in fact operating when it came to other alliance members given it was not given clear advice that members of the alliance would be conducting flight training on behalf of APTA or would otherwise be operating as separate entities. For instance, the Operations Manuals you submitted to CASA subsequent to the reported email of 23 June 2016 provide more detail about APTA’s structure, but do not provide clear information on this point.



I have no reason to dispute your advice that former CASA officers share your view that CASA was fully aware of how APTA was actually operating well before the notice of October 2018. However, in all the circumstances I do not consider further investigation of this aspect of the complaint warranted. I do not see a good basis to conclude that further investigation would result in uncovering material sufficient for our Office to conclude that CASA’s view is unreasonable. I also cannot see any practical outcome to further interrogating what occurred prior to the notice of October 2018 given our view is that there was a reasonable basis for issuing the notice.



Your most recent email of 30 June 2021 provided further material in support of your complaint. I note that this material is focused more on whether CASA had good reason to issue the notice and whether CASA took reasonable steps to assist you in remedying the reported issues it had identified. I note that I have seen much of this correspondence already in examining CASA’s responses to our Office. For the reasons I have previously outlined, in my view we are not in a position to be critical of the decision to issue the notice in October 2018 nor can we conclude that CASA did not provide sufficient assistance to try and resolve the issues subsequent to issuing the notice.



For the reasons outlined above, in my earlier correspondence, and during our telephone conversations on this matter, I have decided that further investigation is not warranted in all the circumstances.



If you would like to offer further comment please respond via reply email.



I appreciate that you will be disappointed in this email and in the outcome of your complaint to our Office. I understand you have been considering the potential for legal action and raising this matter with a relevant Federal MP. These options remain open to you.



Thank you for bringing your concerns to the attention of our Office.



Kind regards





Mark

Complaint Resolution Officer

COMMONWEALTH OMBUDSMAN

Phone: 1300 362 072

Email: [email protected]

Website:www.ombudsman.gov.au

[img]file:///C:/Users/61418/AppData/Local/Temp/msohtmlclip1/01/clip_image002.gif[/img]

Influencing systemic improvement in public administration
Never read so much weasel word obfuscating crap in my life - they APPROVED the operation, it's clear to anyone up to and including a long lost neanderthal with a serious and debilitating head injury that they knew PRECISELY what you were planning from the outset - that much is bloody obvious from the emails you've posted on this forum from the beginning of the APTA concept.

Jesus Christ, they even suggested schools to approach.

I realise that you are disappointed and a bit flattened by this Glen, but don't give up. Just because some bureaucratic public time-server thinks there's no case to answer, doesn't mean it won't frighten the ****e out of the right politician if you keep pushing the case.

The thing about politicians as I'm sure you know is that they are both gutless and opportunistic....... hitting the right nail at the right time where embarrassment or worse - loss of ones seat - is a prospect, will work wonders. I say that because I have been closely following another case of outright bastardry, the one involving bugging and legal action in secret court of the two people regarding the Timor Leste case. I can absolutely assure you that if it heats up and becomes a potential election issue, the government will fold its tents and their alleged 'public interest' reason(s) will evaporate like a wisp of smoke....

This is because the sort of people that are pursuing those two and who have done this to you have about as much substance as ectoplasm. I think someone said a while back on this thread - you need to find a way to frighten the **** out of them and make it part of their personal (selfish) interest. I think it was Keating that said "In any battle, back the horse being ridden by self interest, because you know it'll try its best". Finding that self interest will be challenging but I'm certain there's a pathway there somewhere.......

I'd say for the immediate present, settle into your new abode, keep your family close but think through the next move, it is likely we are heading for what may very well be a watershed election that will be too close to call and there is a mounting anger in the community about quite a few things - the time may be approaching to sprint to the finish line....

In the meantime, we are all (I'm sure I speak for everyone on here) in your corner.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 22:01
  #1675 (permalink)  
 
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It's a strange world where CASA's ICC is more damning of it than the Ombudsman.
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Old 1st Jul 2021, 23:58
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A huge pity Laurence Charles Gruzman QC is no longer around Glen, he would likely have taken your case on pro bono just for the fun of jousting with CASA and making them look the fool, and winning the case.

He was an individual who caused lost sleep, ulcers and migraines in the regulator when seen approaching.
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Old 2nd Jul 2021, 00:34
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I may have misunderstood the Ombudsman reply but it reads as though CASA claimed they didn't know what was going on until after the paperwork was signed off then they made up reasons to effectively shut Glen down. At no stage could they advise Glen on how to resolve the various unsubstantiated issues and that's acceptable?
At the very least it's gross incompetence and significant lack of oversight within CASA. How could anyone have any confidence that anything CASA signs off as acceptable will actually be so.
Isn't it CASA's role to know what is going on in a timely manner? I'm not sure that having several of CASA's staff working on a project with a client over several years only to claim at the end of the process that it wasn't what they thought it was but couldn't actually define what the problem is, reeks of incompetence or worse. It's not The (anti) Block (movie) where 'it's the vibe'.
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Old 2nd Jul 2021, 00:44
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CASA did "advise Glen on how to resolve the various unsubstantiated issues".

CASA demanded:
[A] tabular legend, showing how and where the actions called up under each applicable provision of the civil aviation legislation germane to the conduct of operations under CASR Part 141 [and Part 142] are effectively addressed in the terms of the contractual agreement(s).
That demand was based on some conjured up law that doesn't exist:
The operational and organisational arrangement contemplated by CASR 141 [and Part 142] are based on a conventional business model, under which all of the operational activities conducted by the authorisation holder are carried out, for and behalf of the authorisation holder by persons employed by, and in all respects as agents of, the authorisation holder.
As a matter of practicality, that sounded the death knell for Glens' business and livelihood.
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Old 2nd Jul 2021, 01:50
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Originally Posted by Lead Balloon
CASA did "advise Glen on how to resolve the various unsubstantiated issues".

CASA demanded:

That demand was based on some conjured up law that doesn't exist:As a matter of practicality, that sounded the death knell for Glens' business and livelihood.
CASA also make sure it used the word ‘conventional’. They like to do that when defending or explaining their own actions - we use ‘conventional models’, we promulgate ‘best practise’ modelling, we believe that the ‘intent’ of the rule is such and such. A bit like a Politician who doesn’t want to get nailed, so he/she says ‘I don’t recall’ instead of a yes or no answer. It’s a carefully crafted and manipulated use of the English language. Dr Aleck has used the law and his own personal beliefs to enjoy feeding his narcissism by tinkering with peoples lives and destroying others. He has no conscience and he has no balls. He likes to hide behind law books and secure office doors because he is a gutless little worm. Is it because his father breastfed him as a child or because the waters around Loyola Chicago were polluted with PFAS which has fried his synapsis? Who knows. All I know is that Pip ought to be careful of the little fuzzy haired grey bearded little man because if she does something that he does not like both him and the arrogant Scot will chew her up and spit her out.


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Old 2nd Jul 2021, 04:00
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Originally Posted by Paragraph377
CASA also make sure it used the word ‘conventional’. They like to do that when defending or explaining their own actions - we use ‘conventional models’, we promulgate ‘best practise’ modelling, we believe that the ‘intent’ of the rule is such and such. A bit like a Politician who doesn’t want to get nailed, so he/she says ‘I don’t recall’ instead of a yes or no answer. It’s a carefully crafted and manipulated use of the English language. Dr Aleck has used the law and his own personal beliefs to enjoy feeding his narcissism by tinkering with peoples lives and destroying others. He has no conscience and he has no balls. He likes to hide behind law books and secure office doors because he is a gutless little worm. Is it because his father breastfed him as a child or because the waters around Loyola Chicago were polluted with PFAS which has fried his synapsis? Who knows. All I know is that Pip ought to be careful of the little fuzzy haired grey bearded little man because if she does something that he does not like both him and the arrogant Scot will chew her up and spit her out.
Quite right Paragraph,

This phenomena is the bane of people like Don Watson who I personally think is a national treasure....... I think one of the reasons that people have turned off politicians in general is because of this sort of utter, weasel-word, BS language.

Some obvious examples to add to the one you allude to above....... note how people like Morrison and Dutton and the rest of them say "We TOOK a decision" - don't have the guts to say "I MADE the decision"...... this presumably so later they can claim "I never said I made the decision". "We are seeking to address the issue and that remains our position" - that sentence doesn't even mean anything. Politicians, diplomats and public servants have all bought into this garbage - no one does anything or accomplishes anything anymore, they just "Seek" to do it.

Don't even get me started on the latest crop of buzz words, 'leaning in', 'cohort', 'low hanging fruit' and the like, etc. These people don't realise how moronic they sound parroting this tosh.

I'm mincing with semantics here I know but CASA goes on and on about "outcomes based" this and that. a RESULT is something that you measure and can predict, an 'outcome' is something that results that usually can't be predicted or isn't known until it eventuates, so even the words they use are moronic - what the hell is 'outcomes based education' FFS - how often do Pilots state that they are flying the aeroplane according to an 'outcomes based procedure'.

I watched a Senate Standing Committee snippet the other day and they had some egregiously over-fed diplomatic person who was asked if the decision they made to vote a certain way at an international conference was dictated by what the United States wanted Australia to do....... this guy sat there for 10 minutes continually saying "We interface constantly with a wide range of interlocutors in achieving outcomes in this space".

You could see the Senator(s) (Carr and Patrick I think it was) becoming closer and closer to the verge of saying "JUST ANSWER THE EFFING QUESTION you obscurantist"

No wonder CASA are the way they are.......
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