GA Struggles To Survive In Australia

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Too much regulation and too many small airports closing down or being sold off to the private sector are the main culprits causing the decline of general aviation in Australia, according to the Australian unit of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. "A viable GA industry is essential for the health and expansion of aviation in Australia," the group said in a report issued this week. If the country would adopt a set of rules more like those in the U.S., as New Zealand has done, the industry could yet rebound, the group said. And the government should reconsider its policy of selling off its GA airports, the report said. Commercial operators hike their prices, driving out small flight schools and private owners. Notably, while the GA industry overall is in trouble, the recreational aircraft sector in Australia is booming. More than 4,000 recreational/sport aircraft and over 1,000 gliders are flown there.

"The less onerous regulatory requirements that are helping the recreational sector to grow need to be applied to traditional GA," AOPA says. "CASA [the Civil Aviation Safety Authority] needs to adopt a more proactive, less punitive role."