THE recent abolition of the 457 Visa by the Federal Government – replaced by a new Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa – has had unintended consequences in the aviation industry through a looming shortage of pilots.
Australian aviation has suffered periodic shortages of pilots ever since the mass sackings of pilots that occurred during the long pilots’ strike of late 1989 – and subsequently saw an outflow of Australian pilots to international airlines.
Australian pilots have since been recognised internationally for their skills and training – so the poaching by other international carriers has continued and led to regular pilot shortages.
Now, however, the replacement of the 457 Visa with the TSS in March is causing bigger headaches.
The flow-on effect has been that pilots are poached from the Australian major national and international routes, so airlines then poach pilots from Australia’s regional routes.
Now regional areas, reliant on air travel, are feeling the pinch as schedules are changed on the fly from pilot shortages, while flights are often cancelled.
The current problems have been highlighted by regional Australian air transport group Airnorth, based out of Darwin.
“The situation is not isolated to Airnorth or Australia, and is part of a global pilot shortage that is affecting the entire aviation industry and its customers,” the company said in a media statement. ”We continue to recruit pilots and currently have 11 positions vacant.”
The issue has already come to a head, with the Federal Government moving to revise the Skilled Occupations List, to allow for foreign pilots to come into Australia on two-year work visas.
“The Federal Government intends to make changes to the occupations list every six months which makes it so important that those reliant on recruitment of overseas employees keep abreast of the situation,” said Dessie Hristova, director at Abode Migration Lawyers. “This is just one way we can help
“In this dynamic space which is full of uncertainty seeking advice from experienced immigration lawyers is important for many reasons. As experts in the field we attend stakeholder consultations and have an understanding of the government’s proposed changes.”
Ms Hristova said discussions were afoot between Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and the Regional Aviation Association of Australia in an effort to extend the visa to four years.
She said the reasoning behind the move was that senior pilots would not be attracted to short-term relocation to Australia and regional carriers needed to attract senior pilots to fill the roles.
A FRESH blueprint for the future of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has been released by the Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester. It places a new emphasis on the way CASA delivers client services and drive a ‘digital-first’ approach to medical certification.
Mr Chester said CASA’s latest corporate plan continues the authority’s focus on safety as its highest priority. But the blueprint also sets out how the nation's aviation safety regulator “will be pragmatic, practical and proportional in its responsibilities”.
“The 2017–18 CASA corporate plan is a strong blueprint for the future of aviation safety regulation in Australia to help maintain our record of having one of the safest skies in the world,” Mr Chester said. “In addition to its regulatory approach the plan identifies a number of key aviation activities and highlights strong stakeholder engagement as a priority.
“CASA will maintain and enhance a fair, effective and efficient aviation safety regulation system while collaboratively engaging with the wider aviation community to promote and support a positive safety culture. CASA will also continually improve its organisational performance.
“I am particularly pleased to see CASA is committed to modernising its service delivery to meet the evolving needs of all sectors of Australian aviation. In 2017–18 CASA will develop a customer service charter that will shape the way it delivers client services.
“It will optimise client service channel options and will drive a digital first approach to medical certification. The overarching objective will be to create an efficient, simple and accessible experience for the people and organisations in aviation that conduct regulatory business with CASA,” Mr Chester said.
Other initiatives in the latest CASA corporate plan include a review of the safety regulatory strategy for remotely piloted aircraft systems, commencing implementation of the final tranche of regulatory reform, and continuing the implementation of the government's response to the Aviation Safety Regulatory Review.