14th April 2016
The Hon Barnaby Joyce
Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
The Hon Darren Chester MP
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
House of Representatives
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Mr Jeff Boyd
Chairman of the Board, Civil Aviation Safety Authority
GPO Box 2005
Canberra ACT 2601
The 94,000+ Users of the Aviation Advertiser Network
Dear Ministers & Chairman,
I would like to extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to each of you with regard to your attendance at the Aviation Rally I organised on Friday 6th May 2016 at Tamworth Regional Airport.  I understand that all of you are busy, and I do appreciate your taking the time for this important event.
Upfront, I would like to convey my sincere apology, with regard to the rushed commencement of proceedings, during which I did not clearly introduce the attending Ministers and Chairman appropriately.  This was certainly not an intentional undertaking and I openly apologise if it has caused any offence.  However I trust my mistake did not overshadow the value of the core message of the rally.
Over 400 persons were in attendance on Friday 6th May standing with the general aviation industry’s leading associations and peak bodies.  Many had driven and flown considerable distances, arriving from each state and territory of Australia, all undertaken at a considerable personal and business expense.  Each participant a passionate supporter of aviation, desiring nothing more than a ‘fair go’ for general aviation in Australia.  An industry calling on government to remove the unnecessary costs that excessive regulation imposes.
I would like to quote Mr Darren Chester MP, during his recent speech to Parliament, defending the jobs of truck owner-drivers; “Australians shouldn’t have to drive thousands of kilometres, spend thousands of dollars of their own money, to fight for their jobs.  These are not paid protestors, these Australian mums and dads are passionate about their industry, passionate about the future of our nation.”.
For too long the aviation industry has been voiceless, unable to meaningfully engage with the political powers that hold direct control of the future of the general aviation industry. The rally signifies a shift for the industry, as it now seeks to actively elevate its concerns into the national debate.
Although at times heated, the rally highlighted the serious divide that exists between industry and government.  It has also made clear the frustrations experienced by aviation users, unable to resolve the core issues which are damaging our general aviation industry.
From what you have each seen and heard first hand at Tamworth, the general aviation industry has declared a ‘no confidence’ position, with regard to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and its regulatory framework.  Those in attendance have demonstrated that the industry can no longer endure the further inaction by the safety regulator.  Thousands of aviation businesses and their employees are at risk, their futures uncertain as a result.
General aviation across Australia has been forced to accept a regulatory framework that is thoroughly incompatible with our industry, by a regulator who did not seek a consensus or mandate from its key stakeholder – the general aviation industry itself.  Had an industry referendum taken place, Australia would be currently enjoying the benefits of the United States, Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR).  This position is further supported by the recent submissions of both the AOPA Project Eureka and the TAAAF Policy Paper 2016.
CASA has continually ignored the qualified consensus and requests of its key stakeholders (the aviation industry) and has forced the implementation of a regulatory package which has been acknowledged worldwide as causing widespread general aviation destruction across Europe.  All of which is well documented, publicly available and in plain sight.
Recently a number of senior EASA personnel have come forward, including Executive Director Mr Patrick Ky, openly acknowledging that the EASA platform is incompatible with general aviation.  Communicating that its regulatory framework is ‘misguided’ and that it ‘must change its approach’ or the destruction of general aviation will continue.
Our closest aviation partner, New Zealand (NZ), identified the EASA shortcomings early and reformed its aviation regulatory framework a number of years ago, harmonising to the US FAA FAR’s with the goal of reducing costs to industry.  Subsequently, their general aviation industry have been given the tools and resources to develop and grow – now clearly leading Australia.  The New Zealand aviation regulator completed its reform for a fraction of what has already been spent by CASA, which is still nowhere near completion.
Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States continues to manage the world’s most successful aviation economy, developing a diverse and profitable general aviation industry based on its progressive and supportive regulatory framework.
The EASA Executive Director’s acknowledgements are amplified by the comments by CASA Chairman, Mr Jeff Boyd, during the aviation rally stating that the framework was both a ‘cluster disaster’ and ‘unworkable’ for general aviation.  Going further to state that CASA was simply applying ‘bandaids’ to the structural failures and inadequacies of the EASA regulatory framework.
The attendance and participation of the CASA Chairman was both appreciated and valued and I commend him for openly facing the industry.  His concise and frank acknowledgements of the incompatibility of the regulatory framework were unambiguous and supportive of the industry’s qualified call to end the failed EASA experiment and to move to the US FAA FAR’s.  However, his position on ADSB simply demonstrated the disjointed and broken chain of strategy and management within CASA.
At the risk of repeating myself, the situation with ADSB implementation in Australia is a clear example of the mismanagement to which the Australian aviation industry is being subjected.  Rather than simply extend the compliance date from 2017 (three years ahead of the US) to 2021 to match New Zealand, the safety regulator is seeking to create further bureaucratic processes.  Further increasing the excessive costs to industry by requiring aviation users to submit an individual ADSB exemption application.  This position is absurd at best.
The economic impact on the general industry is significant (CASA’s estimate is approximately $30 million).  As such, it is clear that forcing the Australian general aviation industry into compliance three (3) years ahead of the world’s most successful aviation economy (the US) will limit the number of compliant aircraft significantly.  Additionally, increasing the divide between the regulator and aviation users across Australia.
Industry firmly believes that CASA’s fixed stance on the ADSB compliance date demonstrates their clear inflexibility in applying fair policy and shows the regulator to be manifestly unreasonable towards the needs of industry. (See Section 1.2.1 CASA Governance Framework Manual).
If I could again quote Mr Darren Chester MP, during his recent speech to Parliament, defending the jobs of truck owner-drivers; “…this is a government responding to legitimate concerns of owner drivers throughout Australia, owner drivers, who right now fear they are being forced out of work, forced out of their industry, unable to make their family commitments… as someone who has come to this place without a great interest in party political games, and I’m not someone who gets involved in the political cut and thrust, I try to build consensus, I try to get things done within my community and work with either side wherever possible.  But sometimes Mr Deputy Speaker, you have to pick a side.  You just have to pick a side on an issue like this and as a regional MP as the Transport Minister I am proudly on the side of small business owners.”
Minister, the Australian general aviation industry is comprised of thousands of hard working men and women, largely involved in small business, and they are going under and need your support.  These people are the ‘truckies of the sky’, asking for nothing more than what you fought for on behalf of driver-owners recently.
CASA as a result of implementing a failing EASA framework has virtually sunk our industry in excessive compliance requirements and costs that are designed for the airlines – not small business.  If we continue with the status quo, CASA will certainly bankrupt Australia’s general aviation industry.
Therefore, the general aviation industry calls on the Minister to take the necessary steps to formally direct CASA to set aside the failed EASA experiment and for the regulator to adopt the world’s most successful aviation regulatory framework – the United States Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) framework.  A move which is supported by all of Australia’s general aviation industry associations, peak-bodies and leadership (see AOPA Project Eureka and TAAAF Aviation Policy 2016).
In doing so, you will be providing our industry the regulatory tools and resources it needs to recover, develop and succeed both within Australia and abroad.  You will be ensuring the hard working men and women throughout aviation industry face a certain future.
With regard to the invitation made at the aviation rally to meet in Canberra on the 24th May 2016 to discuss the key issues.  I would like to accept this invitation on behalf of the 94,000 users of the Aviation Advertiser network and will be accompanied by a delegation which represents Australia’s leading general aviation associations and peak-bodies.
For this meeting in Canberra to have value and to provide a productive outcome for the general aviation industry, I would like to suggest that we focus on establishing a pathway agreement, to which the industry can provide its support for the coalition at the 2nd July election.   Additionally, I am respectfully requesting that Air Vice-Marshal Gary Beck AO (Retd) chair the meeting.
As you would appreciate, we have been approached by a number of political parties and representatives, with regard to seeking our endorsement and support.  Team Nick Xenophon already releasing a clear position statement with regard to ADSB.
Now that the parliament has been dissolved, with the election called for 2nd July 2016, it is imperative that the general aviation industry be given an opportunity to understand the Liberal/National Coalition position and policy with regard to general aviation.
The general aviation industry will again rally in South Australia, with the event date to be announced shortly.  Along with events in all other states of Australia.
Thank you again and I am looking forward to meeting in Canberra on the 24th May.  I await your response.
Yours sincerely,
Chief Executive – Aviation Advertiser Digital Group
Telephone: (02) 8215 6292
Mobile: 0415 577 724
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Edgecliff NSW 2027