HUNDREDS of members of the Australian aviation industry have had a heated meeting in Tamworth, pushing politicians and the safety regulator for a better deal for rural and regional communities and general aviation.
Australian Aviation Digital Group chief executive Benjamin Morgan organised the rally, the second for Tamworth in as many months.
Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester, Deputy Prime Minister and New England MP Barnaby Joyce and Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) chairman Jeff Boyd were in attendance, along with about 300 pilots and industry members.
One of the main issues raised was about the Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) being implemented in Australia three years ahead of the US.
Aviators are angry this will make the aircraft-tracking units more expensive; Aminta Hennessy – who runs Clamback and Hennessy flying school at Bankstown – is up for $127,000 to install the units for the aircraft used in her business.
Mr Morgan said CASA estimated it would cost the industry $36 million to be compliant.
He said over-regulation of Australia’s aviators was costing jobs and would shut the industry down.
“The units allow air traffic controllers to see location, speed and altitude of aircraft, and brings us into the digital age,” Mr Morgan said.
“Absolutely nobody is opposed to the implementation, but (CASA) is forcing the Australian public and industry to meet compliance three years ahead of (the US and New Zealand).
“We see this issue as a litmus of the broader issue, which is the fact that the regulator is not listening to the industry and aviators.”
Mr Joyce said he didn’t want regulations for the sake of regulations.
“To stop all plane crashes, you can only make it illegal to fly,” he said.
Mr Chester said he couldn’t give a clear yes or no answer to whether the mandate could be pushed back to 2021 in Australia, but he encouraged the industry to communicate with the CASA chairman.
Mr Morgan said the rally made it clear that the safety authority was not carrying out what the industry wanted, and said the chairman of CASA admitted he had no control over his organisation.
“Our national aviation safety regulator is being run by a board who are applying bandaids to the problem and do not have direct control over issues,” he said.