Aviation safety seminar encourages pilots to know their limits

CASA's safety seminar was attended by 40 local pilots, all with different backgrounds and experiences. Pictures: MIKAYLA VAN LOON.

By Mikayla van Loon

Pilots from all around the region and beyond joined the first local safety seminar in two years at Mount Evelyn on Wednesday 18 May.

Around 40 men and women, from private and recreational to commercial pilots with either a few years experience or decades worth gathered to learn about ‘pushing the envelope’ when it comes to safety and human error.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) event focused on physical and mental stressors or impairments that can impact pilots when in control of an aircraft.

Aviation safety advisor Tim Penney said this event formed part of CASA’s education campaign run all around the country.

“We do more than about 150 of these all over the country from towns big and small, city and rural and we normally take the roadshow through Lilydale at least once a year,” he said.

“We send an open invite to all the local pilots who fly usually in places like Lilydale and Coldstream and we run a two hour information session talking about aviation safety. So how to fly better, how to put in place little bits and pieces to make all pilots safer pilots.”

With a fairly large population of pilots out in the Yarra Ranges, Mr Penney said it is the ideal location to host safety sessions.

For many of the attendants it was the first seminar they had been able to attend because of the pandemic.

Mount Waverley resident Cameron Dorrough, who has been flying planes for about four years, said having missed the session at Moorabbin, he decided to take the trip to Mount Evelyn.

“I’m doing a little bit of training at Lilydale because I got my private pilot’s licence at Moorabbin, so I’ve been trying to get into some faster planes, plus the grass runway [is different] so it is a bit softer,” he said.

While much of what was spoken about at the seminar was relating to the importance of being mentally and physically fit, Mr Dorrough said he felt much of it could be applied to everyday life.

Growing up in northern Queensland, Mr Dorrough said he never had the opportunity to learn to fly, particularly because of the cost involved but in the last few years he regained the passion to learn.

“It gives you another dimension really. You get to experience Melbourne and parts of Victoria too that I had no idea existed because all of a sudden everything’s a lot closer and what might take six hours to drive in a car takes one in a plane,” he said.

“It’s like being on top of a mountain, the view that you’d get from the top of a mountain but you’re moving so the scenery is changing all the time.”

For Croydon resident Danny Williams, who was finally able to get his private pilot licence after Covid-19 cancelled it three times, he was hopeful the CASA session would continue his learning about flying.

“I’ve been to one before and they go through some in-depth scenarios and stuff you want to know before you have to do it yourself,” he said.

This session primarily touched on things like fatigue and distractions, showing examples of highly experienced pilots just making slight errors that caused close calls or had major impacts.

“There’s no such thing as a pilot that knows everything. So let’s get together, do some information exchange and hopefully take away a few little gold nuggets that people can use and apply to their own flying to make them safer pilots,” Mr Penney said.

Part of the face to face session Mr Penney said was also about breaking down barriers between a federal government body and local pilots.

“The mere fact that people have come out tonight indicates to us that they have a good safety culture and it’s our aim to try and make that even better.”