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Aviation businesses will be put under the microscope with the announcement of an industry-first research report into the state of general aviation in Australia.

The 2018 General Aviation Summit, held in Wagga Wagga on July 9 and 10, resolved to support the project as part of an industry-wide bid to embrace change and revitalise general aviation. This sector of the aviation industry provides essential services to Australians, especially in rural and regional communities.

The research, conducted by Azimuth Partners, will provide the industry with its first-ever comprehensive economic dataset and detailed research report on business operations within the General Aviation industry.

Azimuth’s Strategic Advisor David Young said the Research Report was a response to economic and regulatory challenges confronting general aviation. The report will pinpoint opportunities for improvement within individual businesses whilst helping the industry to inform and lobby governments and regulators.

“General Aviation faces a number of significant challenges in Australia, and this research aims to identify these hurdles and create strategies to address them,” Mr Young said.

“Business in general faces considerable red tape before even contemplating the impact of the highly-regulated aviation industry. We know some businesses are facing issues with airport access and infrastructure ownership, so it will be interesting to see if this is reflected in the research.
“It is just not possible to secure long-term leases or purchase freehold land at the majority of airfields in Australia,” he said.
“If your business is running on a month-to-month lease in ageing buildings you aren’t able to present yourself well as a business, you cannot provide security for your staff, and you can’t make long-term business investment decisions.”

According to Mr Young, the transfer of airport infrastructure from Federal Government control to private and council-owned businesses has created a scenario where access to airfields and airspace is economically inequitable.

“We already know many local councils are charging rent and access fees on a commercial basis, without having made a financial contribution to the airfield’s creation or upkeep,” he said.

“Federal Government grants are often used to maintain the assets while the councils seek to recover these costs from users. It’s not equitable and it is important that people who access those public infrastructure assets to run their businesses can do so in a cost-effective manner with security of tenure.”

Mr Young also believed the report would illustrate the factors that put at risk the ability of general aviation to produce the number of pilots required to meet the looming world-wide shortage of pilots.

“Without general aviation, future pilots cannot access flight training or obtain the necessary level of flying experience to meet airline requirements,” Mr Young said. “Furthermore, regional Australia would be severely impacted if general aviation was not supported. People couldn’t move in and around remote areas, emergency services couldn’t be delivered, and emergency relief often couldn’t occur.”

The Research Report aims to provide an understanding of the size of the general aviation industry, its economic impact and employment rates. It will address the health of the sector, operational challenges, and avenues for improvement and growth.

“We need to ensure general aviation receives the right support, as and when it’s needed. This report gives us the opportunity to bring significant economic data to the table so that governments and regulators can understand the impact of general aviation,” Mr Young said.

The first stage of the research process includes two industry surveys: Aviation Business Risks and General Aviation Insights. This will result in a preliminary Insights report, which is expected to be published later this year. Participants will then have an opportunity to participate in the Better Aviation Business Program to provide more detailed research into economic and organisational benchmarks. The project will culminate in a comprehensive research report to be released in early 2019.

All businesses that work in or support the General Aviation industry are encouraged to take part in the research process. To participate, please complete the Aviation Business Risks Survey or contact Azimuth Partners on 07 3886 0743 for more information.