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Question: How to improve GA's profile, community standing & outlook?

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Question: How to improve GA's profile, community standing & outlook?

Old 19th Jul 2022, 05:05
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Question: How to improve GA's profile, community standing & outlook?

Hi everyone,
Seems to me that GA has been adopting a very low a profile here in Oz, something that doesn't help very much with public perceptions and business standing. We can't do nothing and expect a different result, other than a continued, inexorable decline into irrelevance together with more embuggerance from regulators and government. Perhaps it's time to go on the offensive.

With the best intentions and at the risk of flaming out, I'd like to open up a discussion about idea's to improve the situation, raise the profile of GA and make it harder for the faceless rubber-desk-johnny's .to screw it up any further.

I don't have a dog in this fight, I'm just a low time PPL who grew up amazed at the marvels of aerospace, built model aircraft and was lucky enough to afford to learn to fly myself around a bit.
My livelihood is not at risk in the industry, like many here. But I'm sad the way the industry continues to decline and worry that we won't have one at all soon.

I'm tired of the negativity as well, which seems to have crept into many aspects of life here of recent years, not just GA. It seems to me that young folks just aren't aware of aerospace or interested like I was, could be wrong about this, but that's my perception.

If there's any takers for a discussion, can we keep it positive and try to brainstorm ideas that might be realistic and useful.
I have one idea to start with - an air race with a difference that perhaps someone might think interesting.
Cheers
vne
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Old 19th Jul 2022, 06:02
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I'll start the ball rolling....

Precis

This is a proposal for a Great Electric Aussie Air Race (GEAAR) around the continent of Australia, with entries limited to aircraft that are solely powered by electricity or by other zero-emission means. Aviators and aviatrixes will compete for a substantial prize pool with the overall winner determined by a simple formula, combining overall elapsed time, accuracy and their total carbon footprint, as measured/calculated during the race according to a ruleset to be developed.

GEAAR Objectives

The GEAAR aims to achieve the following outcomes.
  • Promotion of the Australian General Aviation Sector to arrest (or at least slow) the general decline in overall general aviation activity.
  • To counter the lack of interest/awareness of the GA sector from government, media and the general populous.
  • To promote and foster development of a zero-emission, green general aviation sector within Australia.
  • To encourage engineering/design, innovation, and creativity within the GA sector.
  • To illustrate and highlight the challenges associated with zero-emission transport and assist in education of the general population.
  • To demonstrate that great things can be achieved, despite the bureaucratic stranglehold the industry is currently suffering under.
The above objectives are considered vital if the viability of the sector is to be improved and expanded.
When one considers the current geopolitical and economic outlook, a more important industrial sector than aviation is hard to identify.
More details to come if there's any interest...
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Old 19th Jul 2022, 06:06
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How will the GEAAR Work?

The following bullet points outline the basic premise of the air race. Detailed planning, rules and logistics will of course have to be developed, should someone decide to proceed and promote the concept.

Route
  • The race will be held over a series of 24 point to point flying legs, commencing, and finishing in a different capital city (to be determined). It is envisaged (hoped) that there will be significant competition between cities to hold a part of the event, given effective marketing and sufficient interest.
  • Aircraft may be obliged to transit over certain waypoints on each leg, however the option to just fly point to point may also be mandated.
  • The race will be held over a 28-day duration, commencing on a weekend, and finishing on a weekend to maximise crowd attendance.
  • All legs will start and finish during daylight hours. No night-time flying operations are envisaged, as broadcasting night flying ops is not optimal.
  • The start/finish landing zones for each sector shall be, where possible, selected to be off-field e.g. away from established general aviation airports in order to maximise crowd attendance during arrival, overnight and for departures the next day.
  • It is envisaged that crews will camp at each ALA.
  • Such landing, overnight parking and take off locations (subject to approval....), could be horse or motor racing circuits, ALAs on private property, beaches, estuaries, parks or such like.
  • The race will be open to entrants from Australia and any other country.
  • Prize money will need to be significant to attract the right level of local and international interest. Corporate sponsorship will play a role here.
  • It is hoped that a significant level of competition will ensure between towns, cities and regional centres that may care to nominate as a landing and departure destination as significant publicity will be associated with hosting the event if it is marketed correctly
Aircraft
  • Shall be powered solely by electric means. No internal combustion engines of any type will be permitted.
  • Any design of aircraft (e.g. fixed/rotary wing, lighter than air, multi-rotor craft) will be admitted subject to meeting minimum airworthiness requirements.
  • It may be desirable to consider different classes of aircraft which compete simultaneously.
  • Aircraft shall be a minimum of two-seats and shall always carry a minimum of two persons e.g., pilot and navigator.
  • All aircraft will be fitted with a standardised modular array of communications and video equipment, e.g. the Race Comms Pack (over and above minimum comms equipment required to achieve airworthiness).
  • All aircraft will be fitted with a permanent array of internal and external cameras that interface with the Comms Pack.
  • The Comms Pack will be designed to store and broadcast video footage and audio to race organisers/promoters throughout the race for media use.
  • The Comms Pack shall include a dedicated battery supply that will be independent of aircraft power supplies, which shall be replaced with a freshly charged unit at the end of each leg. This power shall not count towards the teams overall Carbon Footprint (CF).

Last edited by vne165; 19th Jul 2022 at 06:14. Reason: Reserved for multi-part post
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Old 19th Jul 2022, 06:07
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Determining the Winner

The rules shall be simple, such that the average person can understand or explain them easily and will be structured so that the outright winner is determined by their overall, total Carbon Footprint (CF) over the entire race period, together with their performance during the race e.g. elapsed times.

This calculation shall include the following areas:
  • Elapsed times from take-off to landing, faster is better on some legs, delta from forecast time is better for some legs.
  • Overall race duration
  • The carbon footprint associated with electricity used to recharge or otherwise replenish the electrical store of energy onboard the aircraft (excluding Media Comms Battery power), e.g.
    • A solar powered aircraft would score a zero CF compared to an aircraft recharged by ground-based diesel generators.
    • An aircraft that recharges with a combination of green, renewable energy would score a lower CF than the diesel recharged team.
    • Teams may pre-charge batteries in advance of aircraft arrival, however no competitive advantage will be gained, as departure times will be fixed and early arriving aircraft will have to await such time. However, the CF associated with delivery and charging of the pre-charged, swappable batteries will count.
  • Ground Support teams may be utilised by each competing team, however where a team has vehicular transport for ground support, the CF associated with such vehicles will count. Teams that use zero emission vehicles for ground support will incur a distinct advantage for example, this maybe an ideal sponsorship opportunity for vehicle manufacturers to showcase their wares.
  • Teams may choose creative ways to re-charge their batteries, e.g. erecting solar panel arrays in advance, to recharge swappable batteries. Teams could charge batteries at a central location with renewable power and then transport them to each ALA, however a Carbon Footprint penalty would be calculated and applied.
  • Teams may request the assistance of local towns to become involved, perhaps charging batteries with human power, or by other such creative means.

Last edited by vne165; 19th Jul 2022 at 06:18. Reason: Multi-part initial post
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Old 19th Jul 2022, 06:15
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Media

The GEAAR will attempt to bring a sense of adventure, romance, and excitement back to aviation, reminiscent of the early days of barnstorming and daring-do by flying aces.

The overall format should be thought of as a cross between Big Brother, Survivor and a Charity Bash. Teams will be obliged to provide significant amounts of time to social and regular media, with live crosses, in-aircraft footage, commentary, social media posts and the like.
  • The race will be heavily promoted, daily through social and conventional media, with on-board camera footage/audio, in flight footage and audio from support aircraft and ground-based camera crews streamed and then edited for broadcast every evening as a race update. A dedicated media team will be required to manage this.
  • Live crosses will be done, where pilots and crew are interviewed by the central race commentary team.
  • Non-flying events may be planned and filmed at the end of each day, challenges, performances etc for the air crew and support crews, which may count towards the overall score.
  • The option to include celebrities on the aircraft for certain legs may also be considered to maximise publicity and leverage awareness.
  • Waypoint ALA’s may be selected and timed to coincide with other events, to maximise exposure e.g. festivals, fairs, other sporting events.
The success of the event will be heavily dependant on securing significant corporate sponsorship and support from the various regulatory authorities, local shires, councils, and state governments. It will also depend on a prize purse that is attractive enough for teams to devote development time and to dedicate themselves to winning.

However, if the right combination of sponsorship appeal and community/industry engagement can be found, there is every chance of success. The event could a global showcase for electric vehicle technology and the aviation sector.

If successful, it could be imagined the event could become annual or bi-annual, like the World Solar Car Challenge, held every two years. This has now attracted corporate sponsorship from a large automotive tyre manufacturer.

There are some drivers for government support for the event, from publicity, to spruiking their environmental credentials. We must bring the romance and adventure back into flying, the GEAAR could be the just the ticket.

Last edited by vne165; 19th Jul 2022 at 06:21. Reason: Multi-part initial post
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Old 19th Jul 2022, 07:03
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There can be no improvement in the Public profile of GA. The public thinks we are arrogant silvertails, CASA thinks we are uncaught criminals and treats us that way, Government at all levels think we are a rich cash cow to be milked. The RAAF and RPT think we are just air pollution.

There can be no change to recruitment:

1) while the regulations are enforced by the criminal code, period. When one studies the lack of precision in the regs, the capricious nature of enforcement behaviour and the application of the criminal code to victimless and often trivial offences like failing to write up your log book, most adults with the money to engage with GA realise that the level of reputational risk is just too high.

2) while access to airports is declinng.

3) while the fixed costs keep increasing: _ASIC ($250+), Medical ($250+) and BFR ($700+)

4) while GA is under threat from Green fascists.

Furthermore any organisation that lifts its head above the parapet gets it shot off by CASA. Examples? Angel Flight and Glen Buckley/APTA

...and thats just personal risk. Investment risk is many times higher.

Your race sounds like a great idea, just expect to spend the next three years in "discussions" with CASA over provisional E-Aircraft regulations. By that time your event will have already been run in the USA.
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Old 19th Jul 2022, 08:32
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As well as millions of dollars required to be invested to research and build such aircraft. I canít see many individuals ready for that challenge.
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Old 19th Jul 2022, 08:57
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Sunfish,
The trick here is to crash through, ala Uber style and build a momentum that can't be stopped - for a kick off, I think the greenies would cheer out loud for such a race. Technological development, electric this, electric that, get the media onside and promote the hell out of it. Get some corporate backing and sponsorship, $10MM first prize, there are philanthropists and corporations around who would stump up that sort of cash given the right marketing and publicity. The idea is to get enough momentum and sufficient reward to encourage development of "green" aircraft, enough push that the regulator gets onboard with the idea and get's out of the way. What a positive thing it could be if someone could make it happen.

All of the problems you list are real, no denying it, but to do nothing is a slow decline into oblivion.

RG,
disagree, there's aircraft available now, off the shelf that could compete. Pipestral Alpha springs to mind. Rolls Royce have developed one. There are other manufacturers developing others as we speak, some I'm sure would love a wide platform and media coverage to demonstrate them on. Conversions to electric can be done. Ultralight electric aircraft. The race could be done under the experimental category.

Pipedream, maybe.
But worth thinking about.
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Old 19th Jul 2022, 09:26
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Hi VNE, I admire your optimism and spirit. I too am a low hours recent pilot, flying for personal (and hopefully business) reasons, not commercial, and I have also been surprised to discover the state of the aviation industry in this country outside of RPT.

Regarding your electric race idea, I really don't want to be a downer but I see a fundamental challenge involving (a) the size of Australia and (b) the range of current (or prospective in the near term) electric aircraft. Unlike a car, which is supported on asphalt and thus better able hide extra weight once rolling, planes need to pay for every extra kilo all the time in lift / thrust. There is an electric Pipistrel trainer operating somewhere in Oz already, but I believe it has a flight time of around an hour, including reserve. I admire your enthusiasm, but I'm struggling to see the viability of a round-Australia mission in an E-Plane any time soon. We're always hearing about a magic breakthrough in battery tech, but like nuclear fusion it's been about ten years away for over half a century and may remain that way for a lot longer. Other low-emissions propulsion systems, such as bio-fuels, hydrogen, etc. might be a better bet and are seeing some level of investment.

I see a potential area where tech advances could help promote aviation, and that's on-demand services - a kind of "Uber for flying". Rather than running fixed scheduled services between regional centres, which is not economically viable, an app-based demand aggregator matches people who want to travel, their desired routes and range of dates (the more flexible the better the deal) with service providers. Depending on numbers that can be aggregated, that could be a range of plane sizes, from a Cirrus through to a PC-12, etc. Kind of like a budget charter option. Here's a startup doing something similar in America:

kinectair.com

That would not only be a positive for aviation, but also for what I reckon is this country's biggest problem - massive over-centralisation - "putting all our eggs in very few baskets". Better transport connections between regional centres would encourage regional development and decentralisation. For example, to get from Coffs Harbour to Moree is a six-hour drive before accounting for breaks, or a big mission via existing RPT changing in Sydney. Either way, it's the best part of a day out of someone's schedule each way. If you could get there in an hour or two, with a bit of flexibility, it would encourage people in those places to work together on various projects, as well as tourism and family travel.

I've heard the thing about the local runway being the most important high-street in town for various US towns. There's definitely pent-up desire for aviation participation in Australia - judging by waiting lists at the local flying schools around here - and the influx of people in many regional areas during Covid would also be a factor. It would be great to see a positive and proactive approach to exploring the related opportunities.

Good topic. Good luck.





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Old 19th Jul 2022, 10:49
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As part of my business activities, I deal with around 200 aviation businesses across Australia and I honesty see nothing but positivity!

We recently ran out of available registration markings in GA and RA-Aus had to add additional pre-fixesÖ so maybe its not all that bad?
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Old 19th Jul 2022, 11:14
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Squawk, good news!
Maybe I need to stop looking in here so much...!

Fineline,
only having an hours endurance might be an advantage, remember you have to recharge, and the carbon footprint associated with that recharging counts!.
Smaller batteries might recharge faster, or be easier to swap out from a central recharging facility, sent out in advance.
Need to think outside the box if you're going to take the $10MM...

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Old 20th Jul 2022, 01:13
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Originally Posted by vne165 View Post
Squawk, good news!
Maybe I need to stop looking in here so much...!
That is exactly where you went wrong. Donít come here for good news!
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 02:40
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Don't keep flying around with empty seats.

Every time I go flying (for pleasure), I fill the seats with other people who don't fly. Share the passion, bring in new people.

I got into flying because a previous generation of pilots took me up around the local airport when I was a small child. Memories that stick out are being up on the wing of C-47 with Jack Curtis and even our beloved Dick Smith put me into the left eat of his Longranger (I think it was a Longranger at least) while moving from one pad to his hangar, older blokes throwing me into their Cubs or Cessna's or whatever they were flying. I was hooked and 25 years later I have never looked back. I go out of my way to repay those opportunities I was given to the next generation.

Something that is simple and a non event for you like a lap around the training area can be ground breaking for the uninitiated.
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 17:39
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Junior…. That is the best idea.
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Old 20th Jul 2022, 22:28
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Last week a chap at my local airfield who owns his own aircraft and parks it next to mine, came up to me and said, ďIím not sure if you remember, but because of you talking myself and my son for a joy flight over 10 years ago, thatís why I got into flying.Ē Iíve done that so many times I had honesty forgotten. Heís not the only one thatís said that to me either. There have been others, one of them now has double my hours and another has built 2 immaculate aircraft and now runs a large helicopter maintenance facility for 139íís.

In summary, your idea above LFA is a good one.

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