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Safe Skies are Empty Skies – Can Barnaby Joyce fix this?

The #casa mantra “Safe Sky’s far All” is now “Safe Skies are Empty Skies”

Question is:  Can Barnaby Joyce fix this?

This morning in The Australian, Dick Smith and a slew of journalists have this matter firmly in it’s sight. The articles, as these are of such importance they are produced in full below.

Anthony Albanese weighs in as well offering advise. He was also, like Chester, a do nothing Minister of Aviation.

The matter is much larger and eventually goes to the heart of the matter, being the allowed purchase of facilities in Australia by foreign powers. The Port of Darwin, 20% of Port of Melbourne, Merridin airport, Flight schools, Dirranbandi Cotton, North West Tasmania farms, West Australian cattle properties, Milk producers. And that’s not all by the Chinese.

Then there’s other nations such as Quatar, with 16,500 hectares of prime land near Cowra.


Effect of #casa regulations

Loss of Airports

Warnings and data from 2015

Summary from 2015 of regulatory workings

Albanese reply to House in 2014

Albanese 2013 non reply on #PelAir

3AW Interview:

Click PLAY below to hear the full details

Sandy’s reply:

In the podcast with Neil Hansford on 3AW he claims that no blame is attributable to the government for the shortage of pilots.
I couldn’t believe my ears.
Nor should anyone else because its as plain as the nose on your face that extreme over regulation and associated fee gouging has killed off most of the flying training in Australia.
What’s not been realised is that in the ongoing process of transition to the new and even more unworkable rules and pointless permissions with huge fees attached more flying schools will cease operations.
Neil Hansford blames the banks for not funding his 600 student flying school.
If I was a banker I wouldn’t lend anyone a cent for any General Aviation business until there’s root and branch reform of the aviation regulations by way of legislative changes to the Civil Aviation Act requiring CASA to devolve responsibility to the industry and take account of industry health.

As one who was in General Aviation business as an aircraft owner and instructor pilot with a number of CASA approvals during Dick Smith’s tenure I can assure you that during that time some sense and ease of doing business appeared. After his resignation GA regulations got worse and worse and here we are today. Obviously Dick Smith has his ‘cut down the tall poppy’ detractors but if he’d been allowed to set the scene for aviation we would definitely have no pilot shortage today.

On the broad front of safety, how ridiculous, how can you have safety in an industry that is stressed by ever changing and unworkable rules of strict liability criminal sanction. Unless your motto is Safe Skies Are Empty Skies, which is precisely where GA is headed today.

Basic safety has deteriorated because experienced personnel have been regulated and fee gouged out of the industry. In addition the ‘Government’ at behest of CASA created the low weight category, 600 kg max weight to induce thousands of pesky private pilots away from regular certified aircraft. Hats off to those who build and fly these tiny aircraft, but you can’t get fully capable airframes with about 270 kg to play with after you take engine, fuel, equipment and two crew out of this 600kg. Because of the engineering limitations none of these aircraft are allowed to fly in the higher and safer Instrument Flight Rules category. Alex in the Rises  

Anger amid pilot crisis as visa rules relaxed for foreigners

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. Picture: AAP
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton. Picture: AAP

Peter Dutton will allow foreign ­pilots into Australia on two-year work visas in an effort to fix a worsening national shortage that is already grounding planes and forcing flight cancellations.

But amid a global scramble to secure pilots, a slump in training and increasing foreign ownership of Australian training schools, Qantas pilots questioned the quality of those likely to be ­recruited to keep ­regional air routes ­operating.

“The United States and China are paying huge money and that doesn’t leave much for the sort of wages they are paying in regional Australia,” said Murray Butt, president of the Australian and International Pilots Association, which represents more than 2000 Qantas pilots.

“We need to look at the Chinese airlines buying up flight schools in Australia. That might fix their problem but it doesn’t fix ours.”

The peak body for regional airlines yesterday said it had successfully lobbied the Home Affairs Minister to allow foreign pilots to be hired for up to two years, in light of the shortage of sufficiently skilled local pilots.

Mike Higgins, chief executive of the Regional Aviation Association of Australia, said the government had advised that the decision would be confirmed in a revised skilled occupation list — replacing the former 457 visa regime — to be released next month.

He also revealed the association was talking to Mr Dutton about extending the visa period to four years, given doubts whether experienced foreign pilots would relocate for just two years.

However, Qantas pilots called for a government white paper to ­address declining output from — and rising foreign ownership of — Australian flying schools.

“Bringing in foreign pilots is definitely a very short-term fix and, given the market, I’m not sure of the quality of the pilots they are going to get,” Mr Butt said. “I do foresee big problems going forward. The government is taking a very short-term view on this.”

Veteran aviator and former air safety chief Dick Smith said the use of foreign pilots was an indictment of 15 years or more of misplaced government policy, which had threatened the ­viability of flight training.

“The fact that there is a need to bring in foreign pilots is outrageous — we are a developed Western country with a very high level of education and we should be supplying pilots not just for Australia but for the world,” Mr Smith said. “We have the safest airline in the world — Qantas — because it’s used highly trained, Australian pilots … Now what we’re doing is an experiment: bringing people in from overseas.”

The shortage follows poaching of major airline pilots by overseas airlines, and increasing foreign ownership of pilot training schools, including by Chinese companies to train Chinese pilots.

Impacts are already being felt, with pilot shortages a factor in a ­recent rash of cancellations on Qantas regional services, while multiple sources told The Australian Qantas subsidiaries already had foreign pilots flying Dash-8 aircraft on some regional services.

Mr Smith joined regional airlines and Qantas pilots in calling for a rethink of government regulation of flight training, to remove unaffordable and overly bureaucratic regulation linked to school closures and buyouts by foreign companies.

Mr Smith said flight training was down 35 per cent in Australia, while recent federal government figures confirm a 40 per cent decline in the number of general-aviation flying hours in the five years to 2015.

Mr Higgins insisted the recruitment of foreign pilots was essential: “In the middle of last year the government included ­pilots and avionics engineers on their banned 457 visa list, so we advocated with Peter Dutton and we’ve finally got halfway back to where we need to go.

“We’ve had success in getting the Department of Immigration to review that list, which will be published next month. It means we can get visa pilots across (from overseas) for a two-year period, but we really need to get them for a four-year period.”

Mr Higgins insisted regional airlines would pay foreign pilots the same wages and conditions as Australian pilots and that the move was the only short-term ­solution to the shortage.

A spokesman for Mr Dutton confirmed “airline pilot” had been added to an Occupations List for Temporary Work Visas, for sponsored jobs in regional Australia, following the crackdown on the 457 visa system.

He would not comment on what status pilots would have in a revised list to be released next month, saying this was determined by the department.

However, he said the new system was aimed at addressing skills needs while putting local workers first.

“Amendments to the occupations list are based on skills needs of the Australian economy, in line with the Turnbull government’s policy that Australian workers should have priority,” he said.

Sources said currently up to eight Dash-8 aircraft operated by Qantas or its subsidiaries were grounded due to pilot shortages, as well as several 737s. Another said up to 15 per cent of Jetstar’s planned flights had been scrapped due to pilot shortage.

Qantas, which owns Jetstar, said it was unable to respond ­directly to these examples yesterday, but played down the issue, while other sources suggested pilot shortage was only one factor behind such groundings.

Qantas conceded pilot shortages had been a factor in recent flight cancellations in regional areas, with flow-on schedule changes in major capitals to address the problem.

“We had a spike in flight ­cancellations in some regional markets during October and ­November … due to a mix of ­engineering and pilot issues,” spokesman Andrew McGinnes said. “To stabilise things, we made some tweaks to a few parts of the network that saw us operate fewer flights but with larger aircraft so there was a minimal impact on actual capacity.

“We’re in the middle of training up about 600 of our pilots and that reduces the number we have in reserve, to bring in if someone calls in sick.”

Mr Higgins, whose association represents 34 regional airlines as well as flight training firms, said regional airlines were hardest hit, frequently losing pilots to Qantas and Virgin, who in turn were seeking to replace pilots poached by overseas carriers.

 Empty-skies-are-safe-skies policy is killing aviation

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I don’t think you should ever regard aviation safety as what is affordable.

— Federal transport minister John Anderson, October 5, 2000

I welcome the appointment of Barnaby Joyce as Australia’s new Transport Minister. He certainly has a challenge in front of him when it comes to Australia’s general aviation industry, which is in a state of near collapse after years of failed government policy.

It will take someone as senior as the Deputy Prime Minister to sort out this mess. As The Australian has reported, general aviation — so vital in a big country like ours — is in serious trouble. Crippled by skyrocketing regulatory costs and pointless red tape, businesses are closing and much of the flying training industry is being sold off to Chinese buyers at bargain rates. A federal government report last week showed the drastic decline brought on by the excessive costs: general aviation flying hours, which include the vital flying training industry, have declined by 40 per cent in just five years.

But none of this is new. I have been warning for years that introducing regulations that ignore cost have been crippling the industry. It was 17 years ago that I ­became involved in a very public disagreement with Joyce’s predecessor, John Anderson, who introduced the ­policies that have resulted in today’s mess.

At the time I was chairman of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and I warned Anderson that the substantial additional costs that had been placed on the industry by the sell-off of the airports and the “user pays” air traffic ­control system would have to be balanced by a reduction in other costs.

Driven by bureaucrats with little understanding of business, he pursued a policy of regulations ­regardless of cost, with the inevitable result that ridiculous levels of regulation have made it im­possible to maintain a viable industry. It seems that for the bureaucrats, the safest skies are empty skies, similar to the Yes Minister episode about the hospital with no patients.

Anderson refused to meet me to discuss the issue, releasing a public statement that showed how little he understood. “I don’t think that you should ever regard aviation safety as what is affordable,” he claimed. “Safety is something which has the highest priority — it is not a question of cost.”

In effect he was saying that with air safety there was no cost that was too high to pay, ignoring the fact this would make the cost of air tickets unaffordable to anyone other than the ultra-wealthy.

Anderson’s public statement was quickly embraced by the ­bureaucrats within CASA and the denial that cost should be considered became an almost cult-like ­belief that still exists in that organisation to this day.

Aviation is like anything else in life. The amount of money that you can spend on safety is always limited by what the marketplace can afford. If regulations are written that increase the cost of flying too much, people can’t afford to fly and businesses go broke.

The inevitable result of this stubborn insistence that there are no limits to the costs that could be imposed on the aviation industry is a situation where operators simply can’t afford to meet the red tape and expenses.

It has done nothing to improve safety and will very likely lead to a situation where most pilots in Australia will come from Asia. The losers are many of Joyce’s constituents in rural and regional Australia who rely greatly on general aviation as a vital link in Australia’s transport systems.

It means we will lose hundreds of millions of dollars in export earnings from flight training and other operations that are no longer Australian-owned

Before Anderson became minister, the CASA service charter ­directed that Australia should ­follow “proven safe procedures and standards from leading aviation countries which best allocate finite safety resources, to protect fare-paying passengers and ­encourage high participation levels in aviation”.

But this directive was removed from the charter in the Anderson years. I fought these changes while chairman of CASA but failed to overcome an entrenched public service and a transport minister in denial. I resigned rather than be held responsible for the slow death of an industry that I have been a part of for more than 40 years.

I hope now that under a new minister we can get back to a sensible policy that balances costs and regulation in a rational way.

Joyce will need to move quickly to reverse the disastrous “ignore cost” policies of the past. I will give him every support and I do hope he listens to the industry before it is too late.

Dick Smith is the former chairman of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

 Need to cut red tape, costs to restore pilot training
  • The Australian
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In September, The Australian’s Higher Education section published two stories on the mess in Australia’s aviation training sector. John Ross reported that the problems had sparked safety concerns and warnings that Australia would squander the opportunity to take advantage of business opportunities from Southeast Asia. Only now is the gravity of the debacle becoming clear, with the Turnbull government set to allow foreign pilots into Australia on temporary work visas. The decision by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is sensible, with pilot shortages responsible for the cancellation of planned regional flights and the grounding of aircraft. The visas are a short-term fix, however.

New Transport Minister Barnaby Joyce, together with the industry and training sector, must reform flight training to ensure Australia can again provide sufficient pilots for the nation’s needs and capitalise on opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region. There would be no shortage of applicants. Many young people recognise that flying is an exciting, interesting career with opportunities for travel and promotion, including aspiring to fly the world’s most sophisticated passenger aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Like businessman Dick Smith, a former chairman of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, many Australians will be angered by the fact the Merredin aerodrome, 260km east of Perth, is effectively under the control of a Chinese government enterprise, the state-owned China Southern Airlines. Under a secret deal in 1993, the company paid the princely sum of $1 to the West Australian government to lease the airport for 100 years as a base to train thousands of Chinese pilots.

The training school, which has suspended operations after CASA raised safety concerns, is one of several Chinese-owned aviation colleges in Australia. China will need an extra 110,000 pilots by 2035 but it relies on other countries for training because of its heavy smog, military-controlled airspace and a lack of English-speaking instructors. Writing in The Australian today, Mr Smith blames failed government policy dating back decades for the mess. He says skyrocketing regulatory costs and pointless red tape are forcing flying trainers to sell out at bargain rates to the Chinese. As a result, general aviation flying hours, including training, have fallen by 40 per cent in five years.

One of Australia’s most experienced flight trainers, Glen Buckley, head of Melbourne Flight Training, says he has just spent $700,000 to comply with new CASA regulations and that the impost almost broke him. Mr Buckley has received repeated offers from Chinese companies to buy part of his business, as have flight trainers at Bankstown, west of Sydney. Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association chief executive Ben Morgan, who believes more than half of flight training in Australia is carried out by foreign companies, wants CASA to allow independent instructors, similar to those who train most US pilots, to play a greater role. In the national interest, Mr Joyce must work with the industry to find solutions.

Australia to give visas to foreign pilots to fix growing shortage

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The move has been questioned by Qantas pilots who have raised doubt over the quality of pilots likely to be recruited in regional areas.

“The United States and China are paying huge money and that doesn’t leave much for the sort of wages they are paying in regional Australia,” Murray Butt, president of the Australian and International Pilots Association, which represents more than 2000 Qantas pilots, told News Corp.

However, the peak body for regional airlines has claimed the move by the Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was made after their own lobbying efforts.

Mike Higgins, CEO of the Regional Aviation Association of Australia, told News Corp the government had advised that the decision would be confirmed in a revised skilled occupation list — replacing the former 457 visa regime — to be released next month.

He also said the association is talking with the Minister about extending the visa period to four years.

Qantas pilots are wanting a government white paper to address declining output of Australian flying skills, describing the move to bring in foreign pilots as a “very short-term fix”.

The lack of pilots is a result of poaching of major airline pilots by overseas airlines and increasing foreign ownership of pilot training skills.

The problem is already being felt with Qantas forced to cancel a number of its regional services.

© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2017

 The Mercury – Hobart – National Breaking News

Foreign pilots to plug Australian shortage

Foreign pilots will be allowed into Australia on working visas to help address a shortage that threatens to continue grounding planes and cancelling flights.

The move by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, which follows lobbying by the peak body for regional airlines, would allow the pilots access to working visas by revising the government’s skilled occupation list, The Australian reported on Thursday.

Mr Dutton is reportedly in discussions with the Regional Aviation Association of Australia about extending the period to four years.

Opposition transport spokesman Anthony Albanese said the skills shortages were an “indictment of the failure” of the current government’s handling of Australia’s aviation industry.

“The current government has dropped the ball,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Sydney.

“Australia should not only be able to produce enough skilled pilots to service our domestic industry, we should also have the capacity to train pilots for all around the world as an export industry to benefit our national economy.”

Mr Albanese also raised concern over potential foreign ownership of Australian airports and ports following reporters half of a regional West Australian airport is now Chinese owned.

“I think there should be very close scrutiny of facilities, be they ports or airports, to ensure that there is majority Australian ownership and therefore majority Australian control of these facilities,” Mr Albanese said.

“I think there is a national interest test when it comes to ports or airports.”

Federal Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells acknowledged the pilot shortage but said the previous Labor government also had to take some blame for the longstanding problem.

“Clearly there have been shortages, there have been issues that have been accumulating in recent years,” Senator Fierravanti-Wells told Sky News.

Originally published as Foreign pilots to plug Australian shortage

Anthony Albanese says getting foreign pilots to fill a shortage reflects a "failure" of government.

 Anthony Albanese says getting foreign pilots to fill a shortage reflects a “failure” of government.

Foreign pilots to fill national Aussie shortage

Justin and Kate

Foreign pilots could soon be allowed into Australia on a two year working visa, in a bid to tackle a national shortage.

As reported in The Australian, Peter Dutton has approved a change to allow foreign pilots to come to Australia on two-year work visas, in an effort to curb a worsening shortage of local pilots.

Chair of Strategic Aviation Solutions, Neil Hansford told Justin and Kate many Australian pilots are pursuing careers overseas.

“We’re an exporter of our own labour, we provide a hell of a lot of the pilots to airlines like Emirates, Etihad, Cathay,” he said.

“There’s just no appetite in a country perfect for pilot training, to fund a training facility.

“Major Chinese airlines have two schools in Western Australia, effectively two schools in Victoria, so that leaves the only independent school doing commercial training is the Australian Wings Academy at Coolangatta.”

Click PLAY below to hear the full details

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