Home' Australian Aviation Magazine : May 2011 Contents 21
MAY 2011 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION
CASA o cials giving a series of presenta-
tions to owners and operators across the
country after Stage 1 had shown there was
a signi cant knowledge gap around ageing
"With a lot of the new guys coming
through, who were taught on and have
been maintaining aeroplanes that have
been built say in the last 20 years to a high
certi cation basis and so forth, they haven't
been exposed to some of the issues found
in older aircraft. And the old blokes have
now sort of moved on, and so you've got
this gap of how to properly maintain the
older aircraft with those older issues that
are coming through today.
"In order to avoid getting some misin-
formed or ill-informed responses to the
proposals, we thought we'd do the Stage 1+,
which is really aimed solely at the aircraft
owners and operators to provide some
awareness of some of the ageing aircraft
issues that are out there, in the hope that
when we do enter the formal consultation
process, the response will be more in-
formed," Higgins noted.
"We're really keen to get to as many
operators as we can before we get to the
formal consultation phase."
CASA's Stage 1+ seminars will focus on
three key points, including the di erences
between maintenance and air worthiness,
encouraging operators to take a closer look
at their aircraft, and clarifying the roles
and responsibilities of aircraft maintenance
and airworthiness between the owner/
operator and CASA itself. is kind of
informal consultation is intended to give
ageing aircraft owners/operators a better
sense of the issues a ecting their machines
(such as airframe stress, deterioration and
corrosion), and how best to counter them
through appropriate safety precautions.
A key point Higgins highlights is the
distinction between an aircraft that is well
maintained by the book and one that is
actually air worthy.
" e maintenance documentation that
was created when the aeroplane was built as-
sumed a particular life of the aeroplane -- so
many years, so many hours, so many cycles.
Now that we've gone beyond that, almost
doubled the design life assumption, this
maintenance data may not be appropriate, it
may not be comprehensive enough.
"Your aircraft can be completely and
fully maintained as per the documentation,
roll out of the hangar with brand new oil,
brand new lters, all the boxes ticked...but
the aircraft can be unairworthy, and we talk
about that a lot [in the seminars] and we
show photographs of properly maintained
aeroplanes which have in fact been found
to be unairworthy," he said.
One industry player which CASA
has been working with to formulate the
AAMP is the Regional Aviation As-
sociation of Australia (RAAA). RAAA
technical consultant Matt Hobson said the
association gave in-principle support to
"We're generally supportive of their ef-
forts and we're appreciative of the opportu-
nity to provide some input," Hobson said.
"We've got our technical working group
which is a subgroup of our members
that are contributing to the CASA team.
is program is a work in progress. Our
members are actively involved, contribut-
ing feedback to [AAMP project manager]
Pieter Van Dijk's team from CASA."
Noting that the lower end of regional
aviation in Australia is underpinned by
ageing, out of production types such as the
Piper Navajo and Chieftain and Cessna 402
series, Hobson reiterated the importance of
the AAMP to ageing aircraft owners/opera-
tors in the regional aviation community.
"It is an issue that covers a variety of
challenges of acknowledging that aircraft
as they age do deteriorate to some extent
as most mechanical objects do, and its
supporting aviation, supporting industry to
make sure that the tools, the mechanisms
and the economics are such that we can
still support those vital regional ser vices.
"With most of the regional aviation as-
sets within Australia, but not all operators,
the model is to buy sound second hand
equipment and maintain those aeroplanes
to a high standard while recognising that
they have a higher maintenance workload,"
Hobson also warned private GA owners
of buying a cheap aircraft and expecting
cheap maintenance costs.
"It's certainly the RAAA's experience that
a lot of private owners, a lot of non-com-
mercial owners certainly, have the expecta-
tion that they'll buy an older asset cheaply
and then will be looking for cheap mainte-
nance throughout the life of that aeroplane.
Now, the two don't go together, so we're
hoping that CASA's e orts will highlight
to owners at all levels that there's a sort of
curve that runs that the older your aeroplane
gets, the more money you can expect to
spend to maintain the aeroplane," he said.
While the RAAA supports the AAMP,
Hobson admitted that there was a "level of
concern" as to what the eventual rami -
cations of the plan will have for ageing
aircraft owners and operators.
"I think that the RAAA is very support-
ive of safe aeroplanes and members [know]
that safety's our number one priority. We
recognise as both the general aviation and
regional aviation eets age, that comes
with challenges and we're very supportive
of working with CASA to...ensure the
outcome of operating a gradually ageing
eet is a very safe one."
Higgins is also keen to allay fears of the
AAMP resulting in groundings of ageing
"One thing we do want to stress is that
CASA completely and fully supports
the ongoing operation of ageing aircraft,
provided it can be done safely. ere's
absolutely no intention of trying to ground
aeroplanes over x number of years of age or
x number of cycles, absolutely not. We're
more interested in airworthiness."
For the RAAA's part, Hobson is quick to
reiterate that the Association's participation
in the program continues to be a work in
progress, with air safety remaining at the
forefront of the program.
"Our key point is that we're supportive of
any mechanism that enhances safety within
aviation, and addressing ageing aircraft
is something we believe is important, but
we'll reser ve the right to provide further
comment once CASA formulate the ...
regulatory mechanisms they suggest they'll
be using to do that."
OUT OF PRODUCTION, NOT OUT OF TIME Piston twins such as Piper Navajos and Chieftains (pictured)
and Cessna's 400 series are important parts of the regional aviation landscape, despite being out of
production since the mid 1980s. (Andrew McLaughlin)
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