Don’t blame the executives. Or to put it another way, don’t shoot the messenger !
I recently travelled to Canberra to attend the extraordinary RAAus AGM. I went there not expecting too much, at least Jenny and I would enjoy a weekend away and a stay with good buddy and LightWing owner George Jennings (Snowman). We got both.
The meeting presented a clearing area for some members to get their gripes off their chests. There were many motions put and much hot air dispersed. Eugene Read, for example, was castigated for being a month late presenting the accounts, he had the accounts on the day and they looked great- RAAus is in the red by a small amount, I suggested the audience look at the vacant shops in Canberra, in the street outside the venue, things are tough, but RAAus is doing just fine financially. I moved a vote of confidence in the board but no one took much notice of this.
Paul Middleton was under fire from the critics but he drew the analogy that all the various aircraft that had been picked up in the CASA audit as not complying where like rocks in a sieve, some fell through while the sieve trapped others. This suited my perception so I volunteered to be a rock in Pauls sieve.
That got a laugh and the meeting needed some humor !
Now, I did a little research prior to going to Canberra because I knew the trip was going to cost, so I wanted my moneys worth. I had found that there where “issues of governance” that the RAAus agenda needed overhauling and so on. Call me old fashioned but I like concrete things, things that cast a shadow, “issues of governance “ don’t cast shadows and I have difficulty coming to terms with “issues”. I prefer Middo’s rocks.
I described how an Australian LightWing owner who had owned a GR LightWing on a 10 sq mile property out the back of Bourke for about 25 years, had been pipped because he had a non-compliant propellor fitted to his aircraft and this had been picked up on his registration renewal. Now just have a think about this. This guy has been flying for decades, minding his own business and the CASA audit picks up this non-compliance, you could say “good job CASA” as this is pretty good auditing, but, the reason for this is simple. Back in 1985 when the aircraft was first registered the specifications showed a Catto prop. Back then there where few options when it came to props, Bolly had not been invented nor had Ivo or Brolga, so we selected the Catto. Problem was that over the years, alternatives came along. To vary a prop on a CAO 95.25 aircraft takes a lot of work. A CAR 35 engineer must be employed to do the sums, flight testing, reports etc and you can blow $5 to $10 K easy, so we never went down that path. We simply fitted mainly Bolly props and left the approvals to Bolly, which he obtained, not all strictly Cosha (that’s the jewish term meaning ok isn’t it ? it pisses me off when the spell check has no alternatives) but workable, safe and cost effective. Nevertheless, a rock in Pauls sieve.
I tried to explain all this to the meeting, the story meant a lot to me as it exemplified the situation and showed it for what it was, a storm in a teacup in this particular instance. No doubt this non-compliance was minor and there where a few major instances where imported aircraft simply and clearly did not meet the standards under which RAAus had accepted them like LSA or CAO 101.55 but most non-compliance issues were simple paperwork things and many were, and remain, the fault of individual members failing to send the appropriate photograph or form. About now the meeting is getting pissed at me and my rock analogy and I am starting to doubt the wisdom of my weekend away in the nations capital.
I came away from the meeting with the belief that RAA was in good shape albeit with a few stuff ups to be sorted out, none the least of which appears to be a law suit over a fatal accident involving a non compliant aircraft, oops !
For the rest of the weekend we explored Canberra, the National Museum is a great visit and the small steam driven paddle steamer (George is one of the engineers on this national treasure) parked out the back was a real step back in time. We lunched in the revolving restaurant overlooking Canberra at a surprisingly low price for fantastic food. A big thanks to George for acting as our tour guide for the weekend. George has been busy volunteering many weeks of his time sorting out us rocks at RAAus headquarters… thanks George !