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VTOL news updates - Australia

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VTOL news updates - Australia

Old 13th Apr 2020, 01:59
  #41 (permalink)  
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WARNING! Another virus crisis is about to hit Australia!

African Swine Fever confirmed in PNG!

3 Apr ’20. African Swine Fever (ASF) was been detected for the first time in Papua New Guinea, bringing the disease to within a few hundred kilometres of Australia’s coastline.

In late February the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation reported a pig die-off of unknown origin had occurred in PNG’s Southern Highlands which had killed more than 300 pigs.

PNG’s Agriculture Minister John Simon has now confirmed the cause was ASF, after samples were sent to Australia for testing. ASF has now been detected in the provinces of Southern Highlands, Enga and Hela according to media sources. PNG’s National Agriculture and Quarantine Inspection Authority (NAQIA) said containment measures are now underway to stop its spread to other provinces and the coast.

In addition to the impact this will have on PNG’s own pork industry, it also means the disease is now on Australia’s doorstep.

The shortest border distance between the PNG's latest ASF case and Australia is about 150 kilometres; however, the northernmost Australian inhabited island, Boigu Island (in Qld), is about
5 kilometres from Papua New Guinea.

Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud said with the spread of ASF to our neighbours Timor-Leste, Indonesia and now Papua New Guinea, our biosecurity is more critical than ever. “With the confirmation of ASF in our near neighbour, our biosecurity measures are more important than ever. “We offer our assistance to PNG as they work to contain this disease.

“Biosecurity measures in place in the Torres Strait have been ramped up as a result of COVID-19 and are being re-assessed to ensure they effectively manage the serios risk that ASF in PNG poses to Australia. “We cannot take biosecurity for granted. It protects jobs, farms, and food and it supports the economy. We need everyone to do their part and comply with these conditions when travelling here. “The Australian government has a no-nonsense approach to biosecurity non-compliance because we know how important it is to keep pests and diseases like ASF off our shores.”

Biosecurity vigilance essential. Australian Pork Ltd CEO Margo Andrae said the detection of ASF in PNG reinforced the importance of the ongoing ASF mitigation work between the pork industry, government and other stakeholders.

“While ASF does not pose human health risks, the deadly virus would absolutely devastate Australia’s pork industry if it arrived here.”

“The potential national economic impact from an ASF incursion in Australia is estimated to be more than $2 billion,” Ms Andrae said. “There is
no cure for ASF, and millions of Australian pigs would be at risk if the disease reached our country. That would devastate pork producers and Australian fresh pork supplies and seriously jeopardise the wellbeing of the 36,000 Australians employed in our industry.”

Ms Andrae said ASF represented potentially the biggest animal disease event the world has ever seen, having already killed hundreds of millions of pigs across Asia and Europe.

“ASF is now confirmed in PNG, Indonesia and Timor Leste and we’re concerned about its potential spread to the Pacific region. This battle is being fought across international borders and we welcome the Federal Government’s offer this week to assist PNG to contain the virus,” Ms Andrae said.

“Even with current travel restrictions, there’s no room for complacency in terms of ASF, especially given international postal services remain operational. That’s why the installation of two new 3D x-ray machines at the Sydney and Melbourne mail centres, as part of the Federal Government’s $66.6 million ASF-response package, is such an important part of our defence.

“Biosecurity measures in the Torres Strait have been strengthened as a result of COVID-19 and the Government is further reviewing those measures to reflect the risk ASF in PNG poses to Australia.” Confirmation of ASF in PNG coincides with the Inspector-General of Biosecurity’s release last week of the updated report on the adequacy of preventative border measures to mitigate the risk of ASF.

“A timely recommendation in the report is the inclusion of additional criteria in risk assessment for flights from ASF-affected countries, including a focus on seasonal farm workers,” Ms Andrae said. “We can’t afford any weak links in our defence against ASF. All aspects of monitoring at the border are critical, but so is the work by producers to strengthen on-farm biosecurity and the cross-agency collaboration being led by National Feral Pig Management Coordinator, Dr Heather Channon.”

Next – we look at possible roles for the helicopter and drone industries.

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Old 15th Apr 2020, 20:54
  #42 (permalink)  
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Will cruise ship losses in 2020 boost the Australian helicopter industry?

Source: VTOL e-news Asia-Pacific – March 2020 Report.

Pre-coronavirus – good news for cruise lines. In June 2019, the Australian Cruise Association predicted 30 million passengers would be carried globally by end of 2019. Due to the industry growing at 5-7% orders have been placed for another 122 ships to be rolled out by 2027.

In fact, 24 new cruise ships were launched during 2019.

It was estimated in 2027, 38 million passengers will have travelled on 434 ships. The global industry revenue will be USD$134 billion of which Australia’s share will be USD$6.7 billion (AUD$11.1 billion) or 5% of the global market. Looking back on 2019, prior to the COVID-19 coronavirus, the Australian Cruise industry may have carried an estimated 5% of the 30 million passengers, or 1.5 million and earned around AUD$8.7 billion in revenue. That is a lot of money!

Post-coronavirus – good news for helicopter industry. Unfortunately, the cruise ship industry suffered an incalculable amount of extremely adverse publicity due to the handling of their coronavirus issues. The evening television has been full of bad news, ships being stuck at sea due to being banned from sending passengers ashore. And of course, Australian taxpayers had to partly fund the enormous rescue activities to bring stranded Australians back home.

Because of this disastrous episode around the world, it must be assumed cruise companies will suffer greatly and have extremely low bookings over the coming five years or so.

But maybe there is a more positive outlook for Aussie (and Kiwi) operators to consider?

More soon in coming posts.
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Old 26th Apr 2020, 19:52
  #43 (permalink)  
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Thoughts on Australian post COVID-19 recovery opportunities

Further to our previous posts on this topic and on a more positive note, if only a small percentage of the would-be cruise ship customers decided to stay in Australia and go to our tourist attractions we would possibly be creating an enormous new industry segment for the rotorcraft operators. The tourist attractions are often located in very remote areas. Perhaps, this may be a chance for helicopter operators to participate in tourist activities with clients who previously would spend a lot of money on overseas air/sea voyages and onshore sightseeing.

Australian retirees who traditionally head out in caravans and motorhomes to visit Australian attractions, proudly call themselves the “Grey Nomads.” This group is well known for being very frugal – and not doing aerial scenic flights.

However, the “refugees” from the cruise ship industry are somewhat different as they are used to spending a lot of money on the typical 1 to 2-week cruise. If forced to stay in Australia, due to the post global coronavirus pandemic, they may add a potential new market for the light helicopter industry.

At present, Australia with 2,300+ helicopters, is predominantly a light helicopter fleet. In fact, the Robinson Helicopter Company provides more than half of this number. At a guess, around one third of the Robinson fleet can be found with mustering companies in remote areas; and by therefore would be able to provide typical tourist activities creating a new industry segment.

In summary, this yet to emerge client group, being somewhat wealthier, would probably use regional airline services and aeroplane charter companies to visit remote tourist attractions by air rather than driving past distances by road. And then go on a helicopter tour of the local attractions.

At present we must hope our regional airline services do not collapse!

The helicopter industry really needs to form a professional business association which focuses on technical and legislative matters that need to be resolved to ensure the promotion of this new tourist opportunity occurs. Naturally, this means linking up with various state and territory government and industry tourist associations to ensure the promotion of the new concept can be a team effort.

As an aside, at present, many Australian state and territory governments are offering incentives to create new industries to overcome the rising unemployment rate. But nobody is going forward to research and then negotiate government sponsorship which may be available to help start new industries as we move into the "new different normal" way of living in Australia.

One side effect of this possible change, is the aeromedical industry would not be able to cope with large increases in tourist operations in Australia. COVID-19 studies are showing how vulnerable we are in our more remote areas. An expansion of this medical facility, already under some stress, is necessary as the bulk of the tourist industry are a retirees and obviously create increased workload upon regional medical facilities.

Next post will show what the tourism financial figures are showing. We really are sitting on a gold mine, we should ask ourselves is the helicopter industry asleep at the wheel. By comparison, the UAV folks are creating amazing technology driven by folks with vision and prepared to think outside the square.

Are you inside or outside the square?

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Old 17th May 2020, 10:19
  #44 (permalink)  
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Latest CASA regulatory reform processes strike opposition from rotorcraft industry

As Australians see one global crisis slowly receding leaving a damaged VTOL industry, it is now alleged by some, another crisis has emerged due to the misunderstandings about the latest regulations being offered by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Despite the best of intentions by our safety regulator, the industry is suggesting the addition of another level of complex regulation may prove be more harmful than the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed new rules are:
Part 138 Manual of Standards.

But industry is gathering forces to oppose the Part 138 MOS, especially after CASA’s own Technical Working Group (TWG) rejected the establishment of yet another layer of complex legislation.

However, CASA has opened consultations on the new rules for aerial work operations.

Feedback due 3 Feb 2020.

Urgent: See CASA website and express your point of view.
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Old 17th May 2020, 10:21
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CASA’s proposed Part 138 MOS – More on ABC News.

Heli-mustering industry raises safety concerns. Hear NT Country Hour with Matt Brann from ABC Radio News


Matt said the heli-mustering industry in northern Australia has raised concerns about proposed changes to aerial work rules. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is proposing a new Manual of Standards for Aerial Work Operations covering helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, designed to address safety risks.

But several pilots have told ABC Rural they believe the changes would lower safety standards and could encourage rouge pilots to operate outside the rules.

Matt spoke with aviation industry veteran Mary Brown, from North Queensland Aviation Services, who said there could be some far-reaching consequences if the proposed rules are enforced. (Interview duration: 13 min, Wed 6 May 2020, 1:00 pm.)

Mary also said there are around 122 pages of other complex regulations that must be cross-checked with the proposed MOS. Industry is also alarmed at the very short timeline to complete this work when most of the operators are absent from their bases as the mustering operations probably are reaching their peak.

New rules suggest not allowing the carrying of passengers on charter flights, such as tourist scenic flights. These will not be allowed in the new MOS. These essential revenue sources for small commercial operators will be moved up into Air Transport Legislation to meet some airline type protocols needing new manuals, etc. And upgrading of the operator’s Aerial Operator’s Certificate will be required.

A comprehensive update will be provided in the
VTOL Asia-Pacific e-news May Report sent out on Monday 1 June 2020. Will include CEO of CASA’s reply to Mary after her request for a time extension. The CEO has suggested industry comply with their request to submit comments by 3 June 2020. After they have been sorted and published; then the industry and regulator would be able to sit down and commence negotiations over matters needed to be resolved in the best interests of the helicopter community.

Readers should note, there are equivalent regulations concerning aeroplane operations, include crop spraying for both rotorcraft and aeroplanes.

More soon on this important topic.

Reminder: Get your thoughts to CASA via the online service. See website. We must get this right as we try to rebuild our industry damaged by the COVICD-19 pandemic.
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Old 17th May 2020, 10:22
  #46 (permalink)  
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Another point of view on Australian tourist flights.

Good news in disguise? For helicopter tourist operators in Australia.

Some interesting comments from a social media source in relation to flying on an airline when undertaking a future holiday after the coronavirus pandemic.

Comment 1. There are two things that I need to know before I'll pay for a ticket again; firstly, if my flight is cancelled then will I get my money back within a reasonable timeframe (not credits, no six month delays etc);and secondly, will my travel insurance cover any costs (including flights) if there is a flare up of Covid-19 that means that my travel has to be cancelled. Unless these happen then I won't be travelling until I'm certain that either case is highly unlikely.

Comment 2. A very good point James. I had two visitors from UK stay with me in February. Just before they were due to go home Emirates stopped all flights to Adelaide. They had to pay $5000 just to get home on Qatar via Perth in the end. To my knowledge they are still waiting for any reimbursement for Emirates and of course the Qatar ticket can't be claimed against the travel insurance as it due to a pandemic.

So, who going to risk a repeat of that in a hurry? Not me. I was going to return the visit later this year before all this blew up. No way now. Will be at least 18 months before I even look at it.

My next holiday will be driving somewhere like up the centre of Australia to Darwin.

These comments are very timely as this sounds like an opportunity for the large number of small helicopter operators in remote areas of Australia. Although, their main business is supporting the mustering industry and other aerial work activities of a similar nature; tourism, is claimed, scenic flights keeps them in business – a bit like the straw that broke the camel’s back saying?

But will this change if the proposed Part 138 MOS is introduced whereby the small companies cannot continue their scenic flights until they move up into the legislative nightmare required by the upgrade to the Air Transport legislation.

What are your thoughts?
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