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Pilots keen for aviation policy certainty

When operating smoothly, the aviation industry largely remains outside the political limelight.

This was certainly the case at the recent federal election. While Labor re-articulated its policy agenda for aviation, the Liberal National Coalition policy platform on aviation was not substantially updated from what was released before the 2013 election.

With the election complete and priorities now being set for the upcoming parliamentary term, this important industry deserves a review of the overarching framework within which it operates. The last National Aviation Policy white paper, published a decade ago, is long overdue for an update.

The Morrison government should make it a priority to review the current policy approach, particularly given the substantial policy areas that have arisen since it was completed.

For pilots, there are a number of issues that we would like to see prioritised. Better engagement with all stakeholders by a well-resourced regulator is essential. This should include ensuring the board and key representatives have appropriate aviation expertise. Ensuring pilot representative associations have a voice at the policy level is also vital, and we believe the addition of pilot representation on the Aviation Safety Advisory Panel at CASA is long overdue.

Likewise, there is a need to ensure airport precincts are prioritised for aviation activity. That means protecting airspace from construction activities that infringe airspace tolerances or unduly disturb air flows on approach paths around airports.

The flying of passengers within Australia — from one Australian airport to another — should continue to occur under Australian employment laws. Existing rules on aviation cabotage must be confirmed as non-negotiable.

Action should also be taken to address the challenges facing women in aviation and we would urge the federal government to share our commitment to promoting the advancement of women throughout the industry.

The one area of significant disagreement between both sides of politics is on energy and carbon-related policy areas.

The challenge remains to find common ground on how we balance the effects of establishing longer-term carbon and energy-related policies, particularly in light of global targets for our relative emissions footprint, against national and individual economic interests. Responsible approaches are required to maintain aviation jobs and investment while also addressing the growing community demand for clear policy direction.

Globally, the aviation industry is committed to carbon offset and reduction schemes. Major aircraft and engine manufacturers are looking ahead to increasing fuel efficiency using current technology and, in the longer term, alternative options such as hybrid-electric propulsion, biofuel and other fuel substitutes.

The International Federation of Airline Pilots Association’s position is that a viable and expanding air transport industry can only be achieved on sustainable grounds. However, every solution for environmental benefit must be weighed according to technological and operational feasibility, economic reason and environmental benefit, with safety never to be affected negatively.

The larger industry players in Australia have been committed for some time to sustainable practices and for finding more ways to reduce and offset their carbon footprint. For now, airlines and aviation businesses in Australia are getting on with addressing the questions around sustainability, but the challenge remains for Canberra to determine the political way forward.