Aeromil Pacific, the regional distributor of Cessna aircraft, has submitted an application to Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to launch two pilot-training schools.
The move is an attempt by the company to revitalise the local general aviation sector as well as creating a whole new generation of buyers of Cessna aircraft, says Managing Director Steve Padgett.
The schools will be established this year at Sydney’s Bankstown Airport and Aeromil’s base at Sunshine Coast Airport in Queensland. Aeromil hopes to receive its licence by June, says Padgett.
Padgett says the idea arose from Aeromil’s ‘Cessna in the City’ promotion, when it opened a store in Sydney’s central business district to sell aircraft and services. That promotion resulted in “a couple of hundred” people signing up, saying they would like to learn to fly.
“The enthusiasm for flying has dropped off, but there’s still a lot of people who would love to fly and we want to attract that new generation,” Padgett says.
The initial plans for the schools envisage piston-prop fleets of about ten Cessna 172s and 20 Cessna Light Sport 162 Skycatchers. “We want to get the philosophy right first, establish it and grow,” Padgett says, adding that the move is “not an insignificant investment”.
Aeromil brought a Cessna Citation CJ4 light jet and a Skycatcher to Avalon for the first time. The eight-passenger CJ4, which has a range of over 2,000 nautical miles (3,710km) and a top speed of 453 knots (839kmh), was due to conduct demonstrations around the country following the show.
Aeromil Pacific has already sold 30 Skycatchers in Australia, says Padgett. “If we had 100, we could sell 100,” he adds.
The two-passenger, all-metal Skycatcher has a range of 400 nautical miles, a top speed of 118 knots and a maximum takeoff weight of 599kg. The aircraft features a Garmin G300 glass cockpit.
Australia is aiming to become the first country in the world to commission a joint civil-military air traffic management (ATM) system by the end of the decade.
A request for tender is expected to be issued for the project by the end of this year, with Airservices Australia and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) currently evaluating responses to a request for information (RFI) that was issued last year.
In April 2010, Airservices and the RAAF signed a joint operational concept agreement to develop and implement harmonised civil and military ATM. This was followed in May by the joint RFI, aimed at examining industry capabilities and new technology. Airservices says the request generated about 20 responses, which are now being evaluated.
Airservices Chief Executive Officer Greg Russell told a Civil/Military Aviation Conference during the Avalon air show that options are now being considered and business cases are being developed for evaluation.
“Outcomes from the joint RFI process will be detailed in a joint industry briefing, which will be scheduled for later this year,” Russell says.
Airservices’ current ATM system, The Advanced Australian Air Traffic Management System (TAAATS), will reach its end of life in 2017, while the RAAF is working to a similar timescale with its Air 5431 project to replace its Australian Defence Air Traffic System (ADATS).
“What we have now in Australia is a unique opportunity, in which both the military and civilian ATM systems are approaching their end of life. This presents a generational opportunity to procure a common ATM platform for Australia,” says Russell.
Airservices and the RAAF are working together under the Australia Civil-Military ATM Committee (AC-MAC), with a number of groups looking at joint procurement, cross-training and sharing of facilities, says Airservices. The committee’s aims are to improve airspace efficiency, joint training and greater industry capability.
“We are exploring areas of co-operation as fully as possible,” says Airservices. “No-one has really done this fully, everyone is looking at Australia as a test-bed.”
For Airservices, the project will be the organisation’s “greatest challenge” since the introduction of TAAATS in the 1990s, says Russell.
The new ATM system will require a single flight-data region to allow more operational flexibility, he adds. The system will also have to be capable of dynamic and flexible configuration to allow for upgrades and future technologies to be incorporated, while offering greater business continuity and the potential to improve work practices and workforce deployment.