Anyone visiting their social media accounts over the past week will have seen a considerable body of discussion and debate all focused on Part 149 Self-Administration and the impact it will have on our general aviation industry.
Whilst there are a range of opinions being offered, including some misguided personal attacks and insults, it is clear that aircraft owners and pilots have been afforded little to no information by CASA and are rightly concerned for where their industry is headed if forced to transition to a full user-pay Part 149 self-administration.
From my perspective, I honestly do not understand why any sector of our industry would desire Part 149, which simply duplicates the costs of aviation regulation, creating dual-standards that will only serve to add complexity, confusion and ultimately higher costs to the end user.
What industry needs right now is genuine reform, simplification and unification – not segregation via privatisation and certainly not the empowerment of self-interest.
During the past 20 years of CASA’s management of our aviation industry we have all watched on as they have slowly divided us into competing interest groups, and today we now have multiple pilot training and licensing standards, multiple aircraft registration standards, multiple medical standards and a host of other dual-standards that have nothing to do with safety, but instead on how much money you are paying to whom.
Never has Australia’s aviation ecosystem been so disjointed and unworkable than it is today.
CASA have fostered the rise of powerful self-interest which in turn has lobbied for regulatory disparity, arguing a right to maintain advantages, that have corrupted the integrity and impartiality of the regulator and its core function of safety.
No better example can be found than the issue of recreational and private pilot medicals, where CASA have entangled themselves in questionable approvals that benefit some self-administrations, permitting their pilots to fly powered aircraft in Australian airspace on a self-certification medical certificate.
Yet, in the same breath, CASA have outright refused to provide the same privileges to recreational and private pilots under their direct management and regulatory responsibility, citing safety concerns. A decision that CASA is thoroughly unable to justify or adequately explain to either government or industry.
Where’s the Minister for Transport on all of this? Either in absentia or conveniently looking the other direction, hoping no one notices him.
Now CASA is seeking to reinforce the segregations and disparity by establishing Part 149 Self Administrations for each sector within our aviation industry, creating powerful monopolies that will own our access to aviation.
Think about that… a Part 149 Self-Administration for model aircraft, one for uav/drones, one for ballooning, one for parachuting, one for gliding, one for rotorcraft, one for recreational, one for sport experimental, one for warbirds and maybe even one for private general aviation.
The possibilities for Part 149, according to CASA, are apparently endless and so will be the bill that aircraft owners and pilots will have to pay to participate. Just assume that the average annual membership fee to each is $300 – that’s $3,000 per annum just to be a member.
Nowhere in the world would this Part 149 madness be accepted or allowed – and CASA knows this.
Our aviation industry, and the broader Australian public, are already funding CASA to the tune of approximately $300 million per-annum, so why should we pay a second time around?
Importantly, what can’t we do today under the government managed regulatory framework, that under Part 149 Self Administration we suddenly could, that it would justify forever surrendering ourselves to a never-ending world of increasing membership fees, costs and charges?
The answer is that there is nothing to justify a transition to Part 149, but CASA already know that. Incredibly, so does the industry associations who are right now beating down CASA’s door to become their first approved legislated co-regulators.
CASA is fully aware and cognisant of the fact that Part 149 will create powerful sector monopolies that will drive up the cost of access to aviation, and they simply do not care. Part 149 is not about industry, it’s about CASA and their desire to offload their costs and liability.
Simply, CASA is helping themselves at our expense.
To drive the transition to Part 149 CASA has now communicated a 2021 deadline, whereby they will withdraw all existing regulatory exemptions that permit the various sport and recreational aviation sectors to exist.
As of this week, six of the industry’s nine sport aviation bodies have expressed significant concerns with Part 149, lamenting that what CASA has delivered is unworkable.
Staggeringly, the actual stakeholders, that is aircraft owners and pilots – have been kept in the dark as to the full impact and scope of Part 149. If you ask the average aircraft owner or pilot to explain what Part 149 is and how industry will benefit, don’t be shocked by the vague stare and silence that you receive in return. it’s deafening.
Despite this fact, CASA continues to argue that they have adequately consulted with industry and have relied on the respective industry associations to inform and educate those impacted by the introduction of Part 149, which is a clear conflict of interest.
In fact, in last year’s Senate RRAT inquiry into Dual Medical Standards, CASA defiantly argued that AOPA Australia and others had given them a full endorsement of Part 149, only to be pulled up by the Senators who recognised their misrepresentation of the facts. Several days later, CASA sought to withdraw their claims, confirming that no such endorsement was ever given and that they had attempted to front a meeting attendance sheet as a signed endorsement agreement.
Over the past five years CASA has invested the majority of their ‘consultative resources’ courting and cajoling industry associations, offering them the opportunity to guarantee their futures and incomes by becoming an approved Part 149 Self-Administering Organisation, a virtual CASA Pty Ltd. As an approved Part 149, they become responsible for doing CASA’s job, accepting all the liability and risk, and most importantly, they sanctioned by the regulator to demand whatever fees and charges necessary from their customers for access to their respective sectors – pay for play.
Everything that is wrong with CASA is personified in its development and delivery of Part 149, is has been laid bare for all to see.
It is a clear demonstration of the corruption of the regulators integrity, highlighting the powerful forces within CASA that are conspiring against the freedoms and success of our general aviation industry.
In broad daylight, CASA have breached the trust of those they regulate and have abused their powers so manifestly in manipulating the introduction of regulations, that clearly are instrument of privatisation that seek to gift material financial gain to private business, at the cost and to the detriment of the rights of Australians to hold an aviation medical, a pilot license and aircraft registration.
Just as we now look back at the destruction caused by airport privatisation on our general aviation industry, we too will look back in the years to come at the moment in time that saw Part 149 introduced with great shame and deep regret.
The only winners will be CASA and the businesses who will own your rights, and for everyone else we will simply have empty pockets.