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VTOL news updates - Australia

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VTOL news updates - Australia

Old 10th Nov 2019, 20:50
  #21 (permalink)  
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Australian Robinson helicopters – AVGAS problems in hot northern regions.

AHIA Update by Robyn Ironside in The Australian 25 Oct 2019. An exhaustive investigation into helicopter issues in northern Australia has found a change in fuel composition is to blame. The Australian Helicopter Industry Association appointed an expert panel to undertake the investigation after a Civil Aviation Safety Authority inquiry was unable to reach a conclusion. This issues related to piston-engine-powered light utility helicopters, such as Robinson model R22 and R44 types, that began experiencing a higher rate of premature engine-cylinder failures.

AHIA president Ray Cronin said that prior to 2013 there were almost no warranty claims for engine cylinders, but since then more than 2,000 barrels had been changed in the region. In some cases, cylinder failure occurred within the first 100 hours of service, prompting industry officials to try to find the cause. Early investigations indicated extreme heat was the problem, but it was unclear what was producing that heat. Fuel seemed the obvious answer, but the AHIA ran into difficulty with manufacturers providing limited co-operation, citing “commercial sensitivity concerns”.

Extensive testing was able to ascertain that avgas supplied to aviation operators in northern Australia had undergone significant composition change between 2012 and 2018, with the lead content halved and aromatic hydrocarbons increasing.“The problem with aromatics is they create a slower burning process, and they get hotter through that process. You’re not seeing cylinder head temperature changes, but the exhaust gas temperature increase is massive,” Mr Cronin said. “The problem that creates is when enormously hot gases are going past the exhaust valve and heating that whole region up.” It did not help that helicopters operating in northern Australia were already exposed to elevated temperatures due to the climate and the type of work undertaken, such as mustering at low altitudes where the air is warmer.

Mr Cronin said the report had been provided to CASA and Deputy Prime Minister and Transport Minister Michael McCormack as well as AHIA members. “Our primary objective out of all of this is to see action taken to make this a safer industry,” he said. “We want to hear from CASA how they can contribute to make that happen.”His advice to helicopter operators in northern Australia was to “shop around” to ensure they were putting the right product in their aircraft and staying on top of maintenance.“They need to talk to their (avgas) suppliers, get certificates of composition of fuel, and find out what the percentage of aromatics is, the percentage of lead and make a decision,” he said.

A CASA spokesman confirmed that CASA had received the AHIA report and would respond as soon as possible. A spokesman for Viva Energy, which supplies avgas, said the company did not consider that the issues with the Robinson helicopters in the Northern Territory were related to fuel composition or specification. “In respect of this AHIA report, Viva Energy has not been approached by the AHIA or its investigation body for technical input, information, review or comment,” he said. “Viva Energy has only just been made aware of the report and we intend to analyse and provide a response to AHIA in due course.”

More soon - we are looking through a very well researched 52 page report.
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Old 13th Nov 2019, 07:26
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Regional Express gets govt approval to hire overseas pilots, engineers

Source: Australian Aviation e-news 12 Nov ‘19

Regional Express (Rex) says it has received federal government approval to bring in overseas pilots, engineers and flight instructors to help overcome what it describes as a “critical skills shortage” in the industry. The airline said on Mon 11 Nov ’19, day it has been granted a five-year labour agreement (LA) by the Department of Home Affairs that allowed the company to hire workers in those three areas from overseas on temporary skills shortage visas. The visa allowed those workers to apply for permanent residency after three years. Rex deputy chairman John Sharp said the shortage of pilots, aircraft maintenance engineers and flight instructors had “severely impacted” the airline group in recent times. “The Rex Group is confident the LA will provide much needed assistance in helping us fill up our establishment for pilots and engineers so that we can continue to provide regular, reliable and affordable air services to regional and remote communities throughout our vast regular public transport (RPT) network in every state in Australia,” Sharp said in a statement. "The LA also allows accessibility to more flight instructors and this will bolster our capability to produce more pilots at our state-of-the-art pilot academy, the Australian Airline Pilot Academy (AAPA), based in Wagga Wagga, NSW, thereby perpetuating the cycle of pilots to meet the needs of the Rex Group and the broader aviation industry in Australia.” Rex has said previously it had been, at times, forced to cancel flights due to not having its usual contingent of stand-by pilots rostered for duty. Industry demand increases, according to the 2018-2037 Boeing Pilot and Technician Outlook showed 790,000 new pilots would be needed over the next two decades across the commercial, business and helicopter sector.

Further, it forecast demand for 754,000 new aviation technicians between now and 2037. Asia Pacific represented the largest source of demand with 31% all new pilots, 34.1% of all technicians and 36.1% of all cabin crew to be recruited in the region between now and 2037.

In July 2018, a report found Australia had an insufficient number of pilots with the necessary skills, experience and aptitude to fly and command aircraft operated by Australian airlines. Further, it said the situation was getting worse.

The report was written by a panel of experts shared by The Australian Aviation Associations Forum and comprising representatives from Aircraft Structural Contractors, Aviation Australia, Basair Aviation College, QantasLink, the Regional Aviation Association of Australia, the Regional Express Flight Training Academy and Virgin Australia. Sharp said Rex would continue to seek local workers to fill these pilot, flight instructor and engineering roles, noting its pilot academy at Wagga Wagga had been training pilots for the past 10 years. “The Rex Group will continue its search for skilled workers in Australia and is 100 per cent committed to supporting local employment by ensuring that the employment of Australian workers will take precedence over skilled workers from overseas,” Sharp said. In August 2018, Qantas has secured approval from the federal government to recruit up to 76 overseas pilots and instructors for its regional wing QantasLink to help with pilot training. The move was aimed at bringing in simulator instructors and experienced pilots to support QantasLink’s training program.

Problem is the airline industry is now poaching the more senior RW drivers in the USA, as are the UAM/Air Taxi Industry now emerging. And no doubt engineers would probably enjoy working with an airline, to avoid so much bush work away from kids when they get to high school? Can we blame the difficult CASR Part 61, Flight Crew Licensing rules, and the similar one for engineers. Perhaps they need simplification to allow better understanding?
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Old 20th Nov 2019, 11:00
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NZ attracts more cruise ships – good for helicopter tourist operators
Source: World of Aviation Nov 2019.

The weakening Australian and New Zealand dollars has resulted in a booming cruise ship industry as residents of both countries are travelling more on cruise ships which sail from Australia to the South Pacific Islands via New Zealand. The currency problem has also attracted an enormous number of Europeans and North Americans whose stronger currency makes travelling and shopping in Oceania value for money. At peak times, about a dozen cruise ships are visiting New Zealand ports; either doing the “around New Zealand cruise” or stopping for a night or two and then heading out to the South Pacific Island nations.

Each year cruise ships get larger and passenger numbers have increased to 2,000 - 3500 per ship. This has been a bonus for the aviation tourist industry, especially for the helicopter operators who do their best to provide scenic flights for passengers going ashore for the day. Aircraft ownership in New Zealand reflects changes caused by the tourist industry. The NZ Register has 4,300 aircraft of which 900 are helicopters. The number of single-engine helicopters suitable for tourist work dominates the fleet. Lead type appears to be the AS350 series with 200 registered, followed by the R44 Robinson with 160 and Bell 206 in third place with 100. Overall this group represents 50% of the Register.
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Old 27th Nov 2019, 15:00
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African Swine Fever. An opportunity for mustering and drone operators?

Source: Australian Aviation Issue 375 (Dec '19).

Australian Pork Limited’s CEO Margo Andrae recently told ABC News an African Swine Fever outbreak in Australia would cost $2 billion over five years. Not only is our pork supply at stake but the jobs of 36,000 Australians are at risk,” Ms Andrae said. The disease is extremely contagious and is 80% fatal.

There is no vaccine for the disease yet, and it has been estimated more than 200 million pigs have become victims around the globe. Margo stated feral pigs in Australia are not yet infected. However, if they were, it would be a disaster, as the disease is so contagious. It would spread quickly into our domestic pork industry. Margo later stated we must try and eradicate our feral pigs before the disease comes across from Timor Leste. It would be far too late if we waited until it is detected on our shores. “When an uninfected feral pig is euthanised; say by an aerial shooting program, we can leave the carcass to rot. However, a dead infected pig must be taken away to a quarantine area and destroyed otherwise other pigs eating the infected carcass would become infected. Removal of infected carcasses would be a logistic nightmare; especially in rugged terrain!”, said Margo.

China recently announced they were now short of 10 to 20,000 tons of pork each year due to the mass slaughtering of diseased animals. They look to Australia to send beef to provide the protein to replace pork losses. But we are suffering from a severe drought and floods which caused an enormous loss of cattle recent years and cannot met China’s demands. Australia achieved many accolades for the eradication of bovine tuberculosis from 1970 to 1997. This involved a large number of aerial shooters, and the extensive use of light helicopters.

Today, the number of piston engined helicopters Australia number almost 1,400 of which one third are probably involved within the mustering industry and able to carry out aerial culling of feral animals. The eradication of feral pigs prior to African Swine Fever getting to Australia would require enormous resources; however, there is no other option. This creates an opportunity for the light helicopter and drone operators to suggest a plan for an eradication program. As feral pigs very active after dark, new drone technologies could be used at night, allowing another cost-effective solution.

The pending availability of small armed drones may be another weapon against feral pigs!
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Old 4th Dec 2019, 13:45
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Senate inquiry into CASA and GA

On 3 Dec ’19 it was announced a two-year Inquiry has been launched into the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and the General Aviation industry (GA).

The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee (RRAT) will conduct a two-year inquiry into CASA to gauge the effectiveness of regulation it has applied to GA in the past 10 years. RRAT Chair, Nationals Senator Susan McDonald from Qld, said the aim of the inquiry is to establish how regulation imposed on GA had achieved CASA’s stated aim of balancing safety, relative risk, and economic costs.

The inquiry will look at the social and economic impacts of CASAs decisions on charter businesses, helicopter mustering, agricultural operations and maintenance operators across regional, rural and remote Australia,” she said. “We want to examine the relevance of the Civil Aviation Act in relation to maintaining the highest safety standards while encouraging general aviation and training. “I have spoken with participants in GA and many feel the past 10 years of rulemaking by CASA has not achieved the stated aim of balance.

“This inquiry will look at people’s concerns with CASA and will deliver interim findings in December 2020, followed by a final report in November 2021.”Senator McDonald has established herself as a champion of aviation in Australia, most famously crossing the floor to vote with independent senators on the Community Service Flight legislation disallowance motion in October. McDonald was the only coalition member to do so. She was elected to the Senate for QLD in the 2019 Federal Election and made RRAT Chair in July. In detail: Under Standing Order 25 (2) (a), the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee will inquire into and report on the current state of Australia's general aviation industry, with reference to aviation in rural, regional and remote Australia.

The committee will consider the operation and effectiveness of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and other relevant aviation agencies, with reference to: The legislative and regulatory framework underpinning CASA's aviation safety management functions, including: the application of the Civil Aviation Act 1988 and the Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 to Australia's aviation sector, and whether the legislation is fit for purpose; The safety and economic impacts, and relative risks, of CASA's aviation safety frameworks; andthe engagement of CASA with other relevant Australian Government agencies; The immediate and long-term social and economic impacts of CASA decisions on small businesses, agricultural operations and individuals across regional, rural and remote Australia;

CASA's processes and functions, including: its maintenance of an efficient and sustainable Australian aviation industry, including viable general aviation and training sectors; The efficacy of its engagement with the aviation sector, including via public consultation; andits ability to broaden accessibility to regional aviation across Australia, considering the associated benefits of an expanded aviation sector; and any related matters.

The committee will present its interim report on or before the final sitting day of December 2020 and will present its final report on or before the final sitting day of November 2021. Contacts: Committee Secretary. Senate Standing Committees on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport, PO Box 6100, Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600. Tel: +61 2 6277 3511. E: [email protected]

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Old 11th Dec 2019, 10:10
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NSW Ambulance Aeromedical Rescue Helicopter Service has won HAI’s Golden Hour Award

21 Nov ’19. (HAI) Helicopter Association International (HAI) announced Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) Ambulance Service is the 2020 recipient of the Salute to Excellence Golden Hour Award.

This award recognizes the efforts of an individual, group, or organization that, through an activity or contributions over time, has advanced the use of helicopters in the vital mission of air medical transport. The award will be presented on 29 Jan ’20 at HAI’s Salute to Excellence Awards luncheon at HAI HELI-EXPO 2020 in Anaheim, California.

In the 1980s, the NSW Ambulance Aeromedical Rescue Helicopter Service provided a patchwork of rudimentary capabilities across multiple providers. The organization operated successfully for three decades, but the group needed to evolve to ensure it could continue to provide the efficiency, capabilities, and safety standards expected of a modern aeromedical service. In 2012, the NSW government undertook an independent review that resulted in a 10-year strategic plan to ensure significantly improved patient outcomes for all residents and communities across the state. The review determined the plan could be achieved only by completely transforming the state’s contracting and services delivery model for aeromedical support and by standardizing that model’s integration with NSW medical services.

The ambitious plan then required implementation by a strong team. Ron Manning, the ambulance service’s director of aeromedical services, and Garry Sinclair, its head of helicopter operations, were true leaders and patient advocates who knew that such transformational change would require vision and courage. The plan would have to entail improved patient outcomes and integrated team training to support a holistic environment and safety above all else.

Today, NSW Ambulance (as the organization is now known) boasts the largest aeromedical helicopter capability within the southern hemisphere. From seven bases across the state, the service operates a standardized fleet of 12 Leonardo AW139 helicopters in identical aircraft and aeromedical configurations utilizing a common set of operational procedures and standards.
The service ensures NSW Ambulance helicopter doctors and paramedics can quickly reach patients in remote areas. Over 96% of the population of NSW is within one hour of a helicopter and its critical care doctor and paramedic team.

Operating in a geographical region four times larger than the United Kingdom and slightly larger than the US state of Texas, the service has flown some 17,000 hours in two and a half years. During this time, it has conducted more than 10,000 critical care missions at multiple sites, including canyons, crevasses, roadways, rivers, oceans, frozen lakes, cliffs, and cruise ships. For each of its missions, the service’s average response times are less than 10 minutes by day and less than 20 minutes by night.

Central to NSW Ambulance’s focus on safety is the Aeromedical Crewing Excellence (ACE) Training Centre in Bankstown, NSW, which features a growing list of high-fidelity simulation assets, including:· An OEM Level D AW139 full flight simulator· An advanced sea survival and underwater escape training facility with full environmental controls· A virtual reality–based full-crew cockpit and cabin training system· Wet and dry-winching training capabilities· A suite of advanced clinical simulation assets.

The ACE Training Centre is built upon a holistic approach to provide best-in-class training facilities and highly realistic mission-simulation technologies. This approach to training requires a focus on fully integrated technical and nontechnical skills training for helicopter clinical crews, pilots, air crews, engineers, and specialist support personnel.

More info? Ace Training Centre, 33 Nancy Ellis Leebold Dr, Sydney, NSW, 2200 Australia: E: [email protected] or www[.]tollgroup[.]com
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