An aviation researcher, writer, aviation participant, pilot & agricultural researcher. Author of over 35 scientific publications world wide.


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Reith Notes

Sandy Reith, who has been writing on aviation matters for a long time, being a CPL, CFI, CP, Aircraft Owner, RPT Operator, Airport owner and more!! has allowed us to publish his writings on this page.

History: 10,000 commercial hours formerly in General Aviation business as airport and aircraft owner, scheduled services, charter, flying school, freight, ChIef Flying Instructor, Chief Pilot and Maintenance Control.

Current: Private owner / pilot.


2015: Posting on CASA issues –

August 19th 2015: #asa [Air Services and Dick Smith]

Decline of aviation in Australia due to #casa [Civil Aviation Safety Authority]


AOPA [Aus]


Part 61



20 Dec 2014

I do believe the email message should go to all possibly interested MP’s including Josh Freydenberg. Without political will power we will get nowhere.

Did you think any more about an online petition? Change.org seems to be ok. Can we get some media coverage? Surely there is someone in the media who would lend a sympathetic ear. Reading some gov stats published on the VOCA website the loss of numbers of active pilots, those with current medicals, continues at an alarming rate.

Maybe AOPA could ask the Minister (and publicise the request) to employ CAA N Z to accomplish the task of, for a start, re-writing P61. Surely by now it is evident that CASA is totally incapable of producing a suite of practical and intelligable regulations.

In the mean time CASA should immediately revert to the old regs until their mess is sorted by someone capable so we don’t crash any more GA businesses.

6 Dec


I am sure that we are all gratified that at least, and at last, General Aviation industry ills have gained some recognition. Unfortunately the mooted remedies will fade away, whiteanted, delayed and ultimately lost from memory except for the few of us who have watched with dismay the destruction of what should be a vibrant and useful Australian industry. Younger GA participants could not imagine the dynamic growth of GA in the thirty years to, say, 1990.

The government’s response is full of ‘maybes’, ‘lots of work to assess’, ‘if resources can be found’, ‘may take some time’, ‘must check with ICAO’, ‘new board and CEO need to formulate strategies’ etc etc ad nauseam. Take as an example the agreement to consider the ASIC problem, the report finishes talking about just a possible change but in reality keeping this card. Thus the ‘agree in principle’ CASA modus operandi is writ large throughout the document. Soft soap from the experts.

Not a word about deleting the requirement for an AIr Operator Certificate for flying training, mentioned for further consideration by the Panel but not given as a recommendation. This would be probably the only measure that could quickly reinvigorate training. Flying training is the first and most urgent segment of GA that needs to be unshackled from the exceptionally onerous and expensive AOC system. In the USA some 70% of pilots are trained by individual instructors. VH (ie. mainstream GA aircraft) flying schools are now the rarest of animals, even the Nation’s capital lost its last school four years ago. This is a National disgrace. Nearly 400,000 Canberrans, of the wealthiest demographic and most influential have no flying school. Airline pilots are now on the 457 visa list.

The new CEO has a command pyramid type background, and no ‘coal face’ GA business experience. Minister Truss did nothing to assist GA when he was the Minister in the Howard government. I took a deputation to Mr Truss regarding reform during that time. Instead of listening to our suggested growth plans, he cut short our (concise) presentation and defended the decline in VH registered GA as being balanced with the growth in RAAus below 600 kg category. The low weight category in present form is extremely poor policy, encouraging thousands of flyers into, in many cases, unsuitable light weight aircraft hard up against the thoroughly unrealistic gross weight limit of 600 kg. That is often the combination of two people, engine, propellor and fuel and oil leaving not much for an airframe fit for purpose.

Unless the Minister makes fairly specific directions and imposes time limits, then the CASA juggernaut will roll on. Can anyone really believe that the authoritarian and make work CASA system and culture will now be turned into an enlightened and helpful regulator? I fully agree with your concerns in this regard. If real reforms were carried out half the CASA staff would be redundant, they know this better than anyone. Most of their work could be tendered out for a fraction of present cost, NZ CAA would be a prime contender.

What is it now? Twenty five years, hundreds of $ millions and still they have not finished the rule re-write. The system is broken and the Board, without Ministerial Direction and backup, will be impotent.

With respect, there is actually no firm result and little hope of timely meaningful reform. Platitudes and window dressing is about all we really have, until and unless Parliament finds the willpower and demands action. This will not happen unless we achieve the sympathetic attention of Federal MP’s. I have suggested that AOPA run a petition, one measure that might gain publicity. I would appreciate an answer or acknowledgment of that email.


Sandy Reith
10,000 commercial hours formerly in General Aviation business as airport and aircraft owner, scheduled services, charter, flying school, freight, ChIef Flying Instructor, Chief Pilot and Maintenance Control. Current private owner pilot.

My answer to Phillip Reiss, a director of the Aircraft Onwers and Pilots Association of Australia.

The high speed bullet train is again in the headlines for the umpteenth time. The spruikers are always there waiting for a gullible government.

The plan is to con their way to many millions by invoking a sentimental attachment to passenger rail services.

The proponents of the high speed train want more than a stand alone business, they want a betterment tax as well as compulsory state sponsored land taking, slashing through hundreds of farms between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

As an article in the Australian (27/10/14) says, quote, “some comfort may be needed in the shape of exclusivity, “availability payment” as toll roads often obtain, and spin-offs from rezoned development around stations.” Unquote.

The same concept I recall John Elliot espousing for the same project many years ago. The “comfort” being money taxed from private property owners along the way of the new line. This type of socialism is all too readily fed into the mix and holds us back from the overall benefits we could have with a truly free enterprise system and proper land rights.

Some 20 years ago the Economist described Australia as having amongst the tightest land use laws in the world. This degree of control, euphemistically known as “planning”, has been effectively in place for about 45 years now. So much so that this hugely expensive system is now taken for granted and even taught in schools as part of geography instead of politics where it rightly belongs.

High artificial land values are the inevitable result of the lack of a free market in property. The examples of Houston, Texas, and the pre zoning Australian condition show how successful society can be without the dead hand of government controls. Imagine our residential mortgage situation based on Houston values which are half or less than ours. Our economy would be far and away in better shape. The banks would shrink, but disposable income would jump, and property would be affordable to many in the disaffected groups who now have no hope of ownership.

Maybe we are just scared of real freedom, have too many pet theories of how and where other people should live and work, or do we have an ingrained notion that government knows best?

Property rights are the essential ingredient to prosperity.

As we aware wherever there is artificial land use restrictions based on the opinions of politicians so there will be a level of corruption. Not only zoning but the whole array of controls from the three levels of government.

However land use controls are the most pernicious and millions of dollars can hang by the sway of opinion based decisions.

In great contast, perhaps the only modern urban area in the developed world without zoning, Houston Texas provides a model environment that is growing and thriving. There is little scope in that system for “planning” corruption.

Comparing house prices in Sydney and Houston reveals that average prices are highly inflated in Sydney. This suggests that the free market system in Houston is far preferable and would have far reaching and positive effects were we to emulate that system. Of course this free market approach pertained in Australia effectively until the seventies, before which we great period of growth and prosperity, even though hampered by extraordinary tariff protection.

It is my belief that the money tied up in mortgages would be much better employed elsewhere. In addition, affordable residential property might alleviate many social ills by allowing almost anyone to own their own piece of Australia. Lastly, our bank distorted share market might rebalance with good economic results.

Would anyone be game enough to threaten the whole “planning” system with its embeded thousands of perpetrators? From well paid planning Ministers, Professors of “Planning”, developers, and an army of lower ranks, they might turn 1984 into reality, given the power plays and, in reality, popular support for government controls.

The migration to RAAaus is mainly because of the GP medical and a more rational regulatory environment. I have read the RAAus ops manuals. They are copies of that which obtained when I was learning to fly in the 60s.

A fork in the road, each with a bridge over the same river. One bridge is built down to a very low government specified weight. The other is built by engineers to accomodate the expected use.

Which bridge would you use?

The low weight category creates an inherently unsafe engineering task and is a regulatory dead end. Government ridding itself of a lot of pesky PPLs would be a jaundiced observation.

Firstly the two yearly retest of instructors is a complete waste of time. You could perhaps make a case for a refresher in the case of a low time instructor after a gap of say ten years.

I do not believe that there is a sufficient way to measure that instructing standards have fallen. I believe that standards will largely be as a result of market forces and the health of the industry. In the States where the AOC is not required there is much more scope for experienced instructors, like part time airline pilots, to teach where and when suits them and their pupils. Competition will lead to higher standards, all the more so today in light of internet reviews.

The guidance and lesson planning, that we had in the sixties, was entirely adequate and appropriate. That basic methodology was developed through two world wars and does not need much tweaking except in the areas of technological advance where in some areas emphasis should change. For example with GPS, ground based radar, ADS B, computer generated flight plans and autopilots the necessity for a high degree of visual navigation skills is reduced. In the same way astro navigation has gone by way of the dodo.

Two systems for fixed wing GA and RAAus is not ideal, and a modular way, which in effect is still embedded in the syllabus is appropriate. E.g Air experience then effect of controls are modules, and so on through the course. Pretty simple really. The more sensible regulatory regime for RAAus, much like GA used to be, coupled with the GP medical has caused the huge migration to this low weight category and created the bad situation where, in many cases, the aircraft are not fit for purpose. The example of the Stateside flying school dropping their fleet of ‘light sport aircraft’ and reverting to the venerable but faithful Cessna 152 illustrates the point.

In regard to instructors and standards, the quality of people you encourage into flying will depend upon the whole environment and the opportunity to make a living. If you are forced to instruct in a very uncomfortable ultralight of dubious strength, if you have wait months and spend tens of thousands to achieve an air operators certificate, you may decide that another career is more suitable.

Dear AOPA Board and AOPA Magazine Editor,

An open letter,

I see we are to have another “safety” seminar. I would respectfully ask that AOPA seminars of the future might have a safety segment to an “Aviation Seminar” (as it is named in the header to your email event promotion), but that the emphasis be on all the matters that need urgent attention if General Aviation (GA) is to recover from the present wasting decline. Namely those matters identified by the Aviation Safety Regulation Review (ASRR) Panel and the now obvious necessity for an amendment to the Civil Aviation Act.

Without a healthy industry talk of safety is not very meaningful. I have witnessed, sadly, the near demise of what should be a vigorous, innovative and growing industry. It is time to confront government with the need to take positive action to promote growth in GA. I note that you do not have one listed presenter who is not from government or a commercial entity. What is the point of this? Does AOPA have any way checking that these seminars actually accomplish anything? Are we, like Emperor Nero, fiddling while Rome burns?

Personally I would see a step forward not to have the thoroughly discredited Civil Avistion Safety Authority, and in particular its medical branch, given a platform, rather they could be invited to observe.

The skies these days are so quiet, I look on Google Earth in parts around Australia and find overgrown airstrips. I find refueling points removed, runways plowed up, factories on cross strips.

Lack of flying equals loss of recency, loss of maintenance personnel, increase of costs all around. Lack of flying scools, a severe problem induced by our very expensive and unnessary Air Operator Certificate (AOC) system. The USA has a huge advantage over us in flying training. Airline pilots and other experienced independent instructors teach the the great majority of USA pilots. The last flying school in Canberra closed in 2010. A shameful fact of life for the Nation’s capital of nearly 400,000 people with high average wealth. Pilots are now on the 457 work visa list.

Where is the “safety” in this deplorable state of affairs? I would like to see AOPA put on a seminar to promote GA growth, invite MPs, the Minister and GA industry representatives who have been in the forefront of the calls for reform. Many of these can be gleaned from the ASRR submissions.

My last two or three emails to you have gone unanswered and unacknowledged, please at least advise me of receipt of my emails.

I am an AOPA current owner pilot member of some 40 years standing, 10,000 hours, former Chief Flying Instructor and Chief Pilot, airport and and GA aircraft owner operator including scheduled service, freight, charter and training.

Thanking you,

Sandy Reith #17871