CFI conference, update from CASA and Airservices Australia bods

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On Wednesday 23rd Sept, CASA partnered with Airservices Australia to put on the annual CFI conference for 2015. I went to find out the latest progress on the PART 61 Pilot licence rule changes that were introduced last year.

Airservices has their “Safeskies” conference in Canberra each year so the Hotel Realm near Parliament house becomes “aviation central” for two days. The CFI conference is tacked on to the event and all the heavyweights of CASA are there to let us know what they have been doing.

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Mark Skidmore opened the event as the new CEO of CASA, and he explained his vision of a more proactive approach to the education and enforcement of rules. He had some good ideas and is an easy person to get on with and he is also a light aircraft owner and pilot so he has a good understanding of what it’s like for us all.

Air Vice-Marshal Mark Skidmore stands in front of a replica Bristol Boxkite that he piloted on its maiden flight at RAAF Base Williams, Point Cook.

Mark Skidmore, the new CASA CEO and ex-RAAF pilot and private aircraft owner.

Some of the CASA rule writers explained what they have been doing and detailed the complexities of introducing the rule changes. They were met with a little bit of negativity from some of the parts of the aviation industry that have been adversely affected by some of the new legislation, but they handled it well explaining how the amendments are were being drafted to accommodate and how CASA has been listening to industry feedback about the new regulations.

We all know rule changing is a mammoth task and that some details were left out of the initial introduction of the rules, but that is being addressed and there will be improvement, even if it is gradual.

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The goal is to have a consistent regulation right from initial student pilots through to commercial and instructors, where all of the regulation is contained in one document instead of the current CAR, CASR, CAO and AIP where everything is disjointed. For consistency every detail of the licenses and endorsements will be documented and that was one of the tasks that CASA set for the CFI’s there. We were involved in drafting course structures to detail how a grade 3 instructor would be trained to become a grade 2 instructor (riveting stuff i hear you say!).

It was a bit rushed and not very well prepared but the teams did their best and we hope it will help CASA with the work they have still to do.

Another aspect of the conference that I like is to catch up with many colleagues in the industry from all over Australia. We swap stories of how our flying schools are going, what hassles we are having, and what good things are going on.

I am looking forward to the rest of the event to meet more friends and see what else CASA has been up to.