2022 AGM – Presidents Report
A club is nothing without its members and their support and willingness to work collectively towards a common goal.
I feel fortunate that members have allowed me to sit in the left hand seat for the past 5 years to do my part in building a better and stronger club for the members and our future.
There are so many people to thank for the commitment and support, many often do things quietly and without fanfare or public acknowledgement, these are the true clubmen and women of PAC, the ones that pay it forward for no other reason than to help others.
Over the past 3 years we have gone through, what I think, has probably been the most challenging times in our history, with COVID and the unjustified attacks by the Shire. To name just a couple. Yet every member has stood up and supported me and the Committee to carry on and work our way through these difficult time.
Thank you to one and all of your resilience, patience and loyalty in making this club the best aero club in Australia.
During the last 12 months we have been preoccupied with a number of matters. One of which was the Lifestyle development decision which was handed down in our favour, where we stopped the development of an over 50’s housing development that would have allowed hundreds of homes to be built between the Airport and the Tyabb rail line.
Special thanks to many of the Committee and our members who lodged a formal objection to the development. PAC barrister, Ragu Appudurai, deserves deep thanks for the focus and guidance he provided to help resolve this matter.
During May of 2019 the MPSC, without warning, issued notices across the Airport for all operation to stop, as they claimed we were operating illegally and did not have valid permits.
This set in train a process of VCAT hearings to prove otherwise and culminated in a 5 day hearing in March 2022 in which the Tribunal was asked to give clarity on our permit conditions and our right to exist.
In October this year, the verdict made clear that under planning laws we are an Airport and have always been an Airport and that all we do today, and previously, has been lawful.
This outcome will forevermore allow PAC and this airport to exist with the full protection of planning law. Once again my deepest thanks to PAC’s barrister Ragu Appadurai, Judy Pay and everyone that played a part in us winning our application.
During COVID we unfortunately had to make the call to not run the 2022 airshow. Whilst we came out of COVID lockdown on October 21, we were unable to secure a guarantee from the State Government to obtain a permit to operate.
It was decided that it was an unacceptable risk to commit to this event given the COVID uncertainty at the time. Hopefully COVID is past us and we will run our next airshow in 2024.
During the year we introduced a new flight training and booking system, which also supports aircraft maintenance records, flight and duty hours for instructors as well as student records.
Private Radar also interfaces with the CASA auditing systems. Additionally,the new system has provided a new point of sale function, and willover-time, be upgraded to manage more direct interface systems for students.
It has been a mammoth task in undertake a full process mapping exercise, go to tender and finally select a suitable system.
Furthermore, we have also incorporated a new safety management system to manage our complaints, safety issues and incidents in a fully compliant way. I need to thank Tony Docherty for heading up our safety management team, which is supported by Judy Pay, Rick Taylor and Gerard Lappin.
Our new Club Hangars were fully completed during the financial year, which has been a remarkable project achievement by Peter Cutting considering the impacts of COVID, lack of trades people and materials.
This project will provide PAC members with a place to house their aircraft and will generate an income stream for PAC for years to come.
Additionally, the new Tractor Shed was completed under the project management of Peter Cutting, despite a VCAT hearing and many challenges to get the project off the ground.
Owing to COVID, global geopolitical instability and impacts from shipping and refining capacity we have seen wild increases in fuel prices.
The impact of fuel increases has caused us to put in place an escalator to adjust the price of aircraft hire so as to recognise the cost changes, which thankfully are now starting to decrease.
We anticipate price fluctuations will continue for a while yet and as such we need to maintain this escalator for the time being and will review the aircraft costs every 3 months.
We made three significant submissions to CASA, with regards to proposals around medical reviews and classes.
A response to Avalon Airspace and the proposed changes to E Class airspace, where we have opposed the notion of removing E class airspace, as this will put further pressure on the shrinking corridor north of Point Cook and around the bottom of the Bay.
We also provided a response to changes to airspace over Mangalorefollowing the tragic mid-air collision. It seems that no change is the Airsevices Australia recommendation.
We also made several submissions to both the RAA and CASA seeking support to allow pilots to fly their aircraft to meet Airworthy Bulletin AWB 85 – 021 requirements, which successfully allowed pilots an exemption under the COVID restriction to fly aircraft for 1 hour every 30 days.
During COVID PAC needed to tighten its belt to manage costs, as we were closed for 24% of the total financial year without income.
The Treasurer and others did a remarkable job in keeping our costs down, as well as find ways to reduce our expenditure.
Ian Johnson was instrumental in managing our costs and renegotiated new insurance arrangement which gave us better coverage at a lower cost.
I am very proud of the Committee and the Staff in helping us get through what proved to be a catastrophic financial period for many.
During the year we entered into an agreement to allow cattle to use the 8 acres at the southern end of the N/S Runway.
This helped us manage the fire risk, where we were at jeopardy of having a fire notice issued along with a fine.
As part of the arrangement, new fences and gates were provided along the length of the E/W runway, as well as fences in the south/west corner of our property.
Additionally, some trees along the fence line were removed to reduce obstacles and a fire hazard.
Staff & Committee
I must thank the staff and the committee for their support to me over the past 5 years I have served as President.
I constantly watch so many on the committee give so much of their time and expertise in helping to keep this club alive and well.
Despite the challenges of the past few years with COVID, the committee do their utmost to serve the members and the Club.
Equally the staff have done a remarkable job under the leadership of our HOO and Ops Manager to bring a first class operation to members.
We have almost as many members now as we did at the start of COVID and are the envy of GA Aero Clubs around Australia in that we continue to grow and develop.
Whilst it’s time for me to step down and allow others to carry on the work, I feel confident that we have the scale and the depth to continue to move the Club forward into the rest of the 21st century with a bigger and brighter future.