PCDU Episodes:

Here is a full list of all PCDU Episodes since #1 back in 2009. Click on a title to visit the episode page & download or listen to the episode from there.

PCDU Episode 112: Federal Election 2013

It's time to vote!

It’s time to vote!

It’s time for Australians to vote for their favourite (or least disliked :) ) politicians and, once again, we’ve gone into bat for our audience to present information about the transportation policies of the main parties.

Unfortunately, our cunning plan to wait for the parties to have revealed their policies has not been as successful as we’d like as a) some parties are still holding their cards close to their chest and b) all the candidates are running around frantically to shore up support & win voters to their side.

Oh well, on with the show :)

At 0:03:40, we start with Anthony Albanese from the Australian Labor Party. Anthony is the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure & Transport, Minister for Broadband, Communications & the Digital Economy and the Leader of the House. While unable to come on the show, Anthony was able to provide written answers to our questions (which we’ve listed below) so we provide some commentary on his answers:

1. How important do you consider aviation to be to Australia’s economic growth, especially with respect to foreign earnings through training and the production & export of aircraft & components? If so, how will your policies help aviation boost economic growth? (eg: Carbon Tax subsidies as per other forms of transport, easier access to VET FEE Help for pilot training, employment legislation changes, boosts for trainee/apprentice programs, reduced user fee costs, etc)

Last year was another record year for aviation in Australia with more than 86 million passengers flying domestically and internationally. This is a 4.5 per cent increase on 2011.

Passenger growth in Australia was more than three times the rate of the United States, which registered a 1.3 per cent increase in passenger numbers in 2012.

We’re committed to working with the sector to build Australia’s aviation industry. Over $120 million in assistance has been provided for students undertaking aviation-related studies. This assistance has provided more than 12,000 places for students to gain the qualifications necessary to build Australia’s aviation industry.

Federal Labor has announced we’re abolishing the carbon tax and moving to an Emissions Trading Scheme next year, which will reduce the cost for the sector further.

2. Do you consider aviation to be important to the development & prosperity of country Australia? If so, how will your policies help boost aviation for rural areas? (eg: route subsidies, rural airport development, etc)

Absolutely. That’s why Federal Labor has injected more than $261 million of assistance into regional and remote aviation – more than five times that spent by the former Coalition Government in the preceding six years.

We are upgrading:

  • 47 regional airports in every state
  • 237 remote airstrips, making them safer and guaranteeing medical services

There is more money and support going into regional aviation than ever before. Growth in total passenger movements at regional airports continues to be higher than at airports in major cities, growing at 4.6 per cent versus 3.5 per cent respectively.

In addition, the number of regional airports receiving services increased by 31 airports to 171 last year– the highest in almost a decade

3. Will Aviation have its own minister? Or even a dedicated full-time Transport minister? If aviation (& transport in general) are important factors in the economic growth of Australia, does it not make sense to have a dedicated portfolio managed by a single minister?

I’m not pre-empting future decisions about portfolios – my focus is on securing another term for the Rudd Labor Government.

4. Will the issues relating to CASA & the ATSB that were raised by the recent Senate inquiry into the PelAir accident be addressed? If the two months between the report being produced & parliament going into caretaker mode was insufficient for a response to be generated it would indicate significant issues have been raised & need to be addressed. What priority will this have after the election?

A re-elected Labor Government will provide a response to the Inquiry once the findings have been given full consideration. In the meantime, the ATSB has invited the Canadian Transportation Safety Bureau to undertake an independent review of the ATSB investigation methodologies and processes.

5. Will a decision on Sydney’s second airport be made in the first year of the new government or will still more studies & delays be incurred?

I have consistently said Sydney needs a second airport sooner rather than later.

6. What steps will be taken to reduce the impact of residential encroachment on airports, eg: Bankstown, Archerfield, Moorabbin, etc.

The Federal Labor Government has championed the National Airports Safeguarding Framework to guide land use planning reform around Australian airports. The Framework will help ensure that in the future both airports and residents of suburbs around airports are safeguarded from inappropriate off-airport development. Airports are important transport, economic and employment hubs, significantly contributing to our social connections and economic productivity.

The framework was adopted by the Standing Committee on Transport and Infrastructure (SCOTI) and each state and territory government will now apply the framework in a manner appropriate to their own planning rules.

The Government wants to see more sensible planning decisions are made around airports – that is why we established the Planning Coordination Forums (PCFs) at each federally leased airport. These forums enable the airport and the federal Government agencies to engage the state government and local councils in regard to planning decisions around the airport.

Then, at 0:23:40 we have a chat with Senator Lee Rhiannon, the Transport spokesperson for The Greens. We asked her the same set of questions as those above but (as you might expect), her answers were quite different to those from Anthony Albanese.

 

Finally, at 0:41:38 we review the Coalition’s aviation policy document. We had tried to arrange a chat with Warren Truss from the Liberal National Party as we did during the last Federal Election in 2010 but, unfortunately, at the times he was available to chat with us, we were stuck away from the studio :(

Warren is the Leader of the Nationals and the Shadow Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and it was his department that released the Coalition’s aviation policy document. If you want to get all the details the Coalition have released about this policy, you should read their PDF format document.

Of interest, the Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA) have issued a media release stating that the Coalition’s aviation policies are a “good start and show that the Coalition has at least been listening to industry concerns, concerns that have been shared with the Shadow Minister over a number of years.”

 

So there you go. While we didn’t get to chat with all the politicians we were chasing, we did at least get sufficient information from them to review and discuss for this episode. Perhaps next election we’ll be able to arrange our times more in advance to ensure we can bring you their commentary. Hopefully by then, we won’t also still be wondering if there’ll ever be a second airport in Sydney :)

PCDU Episode 77: Qantas Crisis: After the Grounding

Almost one year after the QF32 incident, Qantas is again in the news around the world and for a short time again appeared to be on the brink of a major disaster. At 5pm on Saturday the 29th of October, Alan Joyce (CEO of Qantas) announced that he & the board of directors had decided to ground all of Qantas’ domestic & international flights (about 108 aircraft). This unprecedented step disrupted the travel plans of almost 70,000 passengers in order to avoid a “death by a thousand paper cuts” due to ongoing damage from industrial disputes with three unions.

The three unions represented the pilots, engineers and baggage handlers working for Qantas’ “mainline” operations. The Jetstar, QantasLink and JetConnect operations were not involved in the grounding.

We have assembled a collection of discussions with a number of people involved in the disputes or monitoring it from the outside. It is our intention that we provide you with an overview of what has happened, why it happened and where things might go from here. Unlike the commercial broadcast media, our time is not rigidly controlled so our guests are able to take their time to explain their views & concerns without being restricted to sound bites.

While we also express our own views during this episode, we have tried to present enough information for you to get a better understanding of the situation & form your own decisions.

The discussions in this episode include:

We’d also like to thank Colin Lipiatt, the Manager of Coporate Communications at Virgin Australia, for taking the time to chat with us about their ability to quickly respond with extra capacity to help affected travellers. While we couldn’t include him in the show, he provided plenty of useful information for us.

While putting this episode together we did attempt to contact Qantas’ media department to arrange a representative who could talk to us about the items raised during the discussions listed above. Unfortunately we did not hear back from them and can only assume that, like Anthony Albanese (Minister for Infrastructure & Transport), they were too busy dealing with the big issues and the mainstream media to spare any time for us.

We trust that you’ll enjoy this special episode of content specifically covering the Qantas Grounding situation. It’s been a marathon effort to arrange & record the interviews then put it all together for you. It has certainly been educational & eye opening for us as we discussed the issues with our guests, and that’s got to be a good thing :)

The Aus Air Services advert is provided courtesy of Star FM 94.3

PCDU Episode 48: ADS-B: C’est un pétard! – with Bill Hamilton

While the technology behind ADS-B is nothing new, it is becoming the centerpiece of modern Air Traffic Management systems around the world. Unfortunately, CASA is once again taking a global concept and creating an entirely unique Australian implementation of it.

According to CASA’s Discussion Paper (DP) 1006AS
Proposed Strategy and Regulatory Plan in support of the Australian Government’s Aviation White Paper
, any aircraft added to the Australian register after 2013 must have an ADS-B out compliant Mode-S Transponder on board. This means large added costs for no real benefit beyond that already provided by Mode-C and Mode-S transponders.

This is creating no small level of concern in the aviation communities, including RA-Aus, ballooning and others, as can be seen from a recent discussion about DP 1006AS on the Recreational Flying site. Even the airlines who were pushing for ADS-B to improve safety at regional airports are now realising that the costs are huge (it’s not a simple upgrade of their avionics) and the benefits are minor.

With all this in mind, Bas & Grant chat with Bill Hamilton, past president & technical director of the Australian Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA). While Bill can appreciate ADS-B’s history and benefits, he doesn’t hold back when it comes to CASA’s attempt at creating yet another uniquely Australian implementation. We discuss the differences between the US, European and Australian implementation plans, the costs associated with our version and the lack of real benefit CASA’s proposal will provide.

As the title of CASA’s Discussion Paper shows, the proposal is implementing an aspect of the Australian Government’s Aviation White Paper. If, like many, you are concerned about the costs being applied to the aviation industry for little real benefit, it is important to respond to the DP by November 30th. It is also vital that Australian aviators write to their elected representatives, members of the opposition and their aviation organisations (eg: AOPA, RA-Aus, ABF, etc) to ensure politicians are aware that the proposed solution will cause more harm than good.

You can easily find who is representing you at the Australian Government’s “Who’s Who” page. You can also find a great guide to writing effective letters to politicians over on the Crikey website.

Don’t assume others will sort this one out for you. Don’t take the classic Australian “She’ll be right” approach. Get out there and tell CASA, the politicians and your aviation group what you think, otherwise the safe skies will be achieved thanks to the removal of any non-airline aircraft.

PCDU Episode 41: Australian Federal Election QuickCast #3: Comments on the Greens & Labor’s White Paper

In our third & final Election QuickCast, we take a look at the published transportation policies from the The Greens and the Labor Party’s “Aviation White Paper.” Sadly, Christine Milne from the Greens and Anthony Albanese from Labor were unable to accommodate us in their busy schedules. Both groups have indicated that they’ll be happy to talk to us once the dust has settled from the election so we look forward to bringing them on for future episodes.

Meanwhile, Steve & I didn’t have much time for a full analysis & discussion but we did record our thoughts on the information we could gather. As you’d expect, the Greens are very much into public transport and eco-friendly fuels while the Labor party are standing very firmly behind their Aviation White Paper.

As previously noted, we’re not trying to tell you how to vote, just doing our bit to raise awareness of the importance of aviation within the political community and hopefully give you some information that might help you make an informed decision.

PCDU Episode 33: Four Degrees of Separation from Ben Sandilands

In this episode we join noted aviation journalist Ben Sandilands from Plane Talking to review the latest news & information. When we called Ben, he was experiencing a heat wave of 11 degrees Celsius at his home in the mountains near Canberra. Meanwhile, here in Melbourne we were thinking winter was upon us as the temperature dipped to 15 degrees Celsius. Four degrees of separation but a very different pair of perspectives on cold vs hot.

Fortunately, we were all spot on with our news analysis, including such topics as:

  • Use of composites in airliners and the indications that it won’t really be effective for another 10 to 20 years
  • QANTAS still claiming that they’re going to get their 787-9s on a date that would be before Air New Zealand (the launch customer) despite Boeing making a statement contradicting this
  • The changes that are afoot with the Virgin Blue group being under new leadership:
    • Brett Godfrey’s farewell bash
    • John Borghetti not getting the top job at QANTAS but, perhaps, getting something better with running Virgin Blue
    • Fleet choices and the possibility that they’ll get A330s or B767s, especially on high density routes like Sydney to Melbourne
    • The likelihood that they’ll rebrand the group (Virgin Blue, V Australia, Pacific Blue, Polynesian Blue) under a single name
  • Singapore Airlines having veto rights over the name Virgin for any new international airline
  • Tiger Airways recording a profit and becoming more of a stable, solid threat in the market
  • Australia’s transport minister Anthony Albanese wanting to restrict cockpit access to only the two pilots flying and any check pilots or safety reviewers
  • The F35 and how Australia seems to be one of the few countries NOT getting upset about all the delays and problems

After chatting with Ben, we have an interview with James Baldwin & Glen Somerville from EmptyJets, an organisation that gives you the chance to get rides in charter aircraft that would otherwise be flying empty on positioning flights. From helicopters to Gulfstream Vs, they’re all on the list and well worth checking out.

After that we dive into the mail bag where:

  • Matt McCabe compares the cost of learning to fly here in Australia against the USA
  • Errol Cavit enjoyed the Red Bull show and will be catching up with us when he comes over from New Zealand (for a Sci Fi convention, no less)
  • Vince Bezzina who volunteers at the RAAF Museum at Point Cook was checking if we knew about the DC6 coming to Australia from South Africa. Oh yes, do we ever!

We also have a couple of shout outs to:

  • Damien Rose who is now a private pilot and on his way to a commercial license (and speaking of the cost of learning – Damien sold his house to fund all this! He must have a VERY understanding wife, that’s for sure :)
  • Steve Cooke from the Flying Podcast in the UK has released his latest episode on a topic that’s very important for Grant: ballooning