The past 18 months have certainly presented their fair share of challenges to the aviation community. Then, just as we started to believe we were returning to a new sense of normality, the Delta variant of COVID-19 left us with longer lockdowns than previously experienced, across much of the country.

Despite the many challenges faced by our members, BITRE recently released survey data from RAAus aircraft owners indicated that our community had, in fact, reported an increase in activity across the year of 2020. RAAus operations were calculated to be a total of 166,000 hours, up 16.9% from RAAus generated hours reported in 2019. This data demonstrates that our segment of the industry continues to show positive growth, despite a clear decline in other areas of aviation activity, none more so than commercial air transport, which fell by 50%.

For RAAus, the impacts of COVID-19 have once again resulted in us turning our safety focus towards informing members of the importance of maintaining currency, and ensuring additional precautions are taken when returning to flight after an extended period of time away. As at the beginning of November we have recently seen the raising of restrictions across New South Wales and Victoria, and with this have seen an increase in the number of occurrences reported to RAAus. For many of these accidents and incidents, lack of currency is determined to be a contributing factor.

Alongside loss of control, near miss and engine failure events, returning to flight was one of our top four safety focus areas during National Safety Month in October. During National Safety Month we held a three-day virtual conference where our team and a number of guests gave presentations on these important issues. If you haven’t done so already, I encourage all members to watch some of these sessions on our website, to better understand what more you can do to avoid encountering one of these scenarios.

Engine failure, loss of control and near miss events continue to be overrepresented within RAAus statistics, coming in amongst the top 5 most common incident and accident types over a number of years. Our team is dedicated to continually improving awareness and training in relation to these occurrence types and identifying further preventative measures. However, it is through the awareness of our members and the consideration from individual pilots to mitigate against these types of events, ultimately improving safety. So the question I put forward to you, our pilots and maintainers, is: What are you putting in place to prevent one of these occurrence types from happening to you?

Despite many of our occurrence types following a very similar trend over past years, RAAus continues to be proud of our ever-improving safety culture. Whilst there will always be ample room for improvement, it is through the culture of our flight training schools, our pilots and our maintainers, that continue to demonstrate that we are much more than a group of amateurs within Australian aviation. In September 2020, RAAus passed 12 months without experiencing a fatal accident – something that I understand has not occurred within the history of RAAus operations. Whilst this may well have been influenced by a reduction in flying hours from our community due to COVID-19, it is also due to the efforts and culture of our members. This is the safety outcome we always hope to achieve, however it is through the continued awareness, education and training from past accidents and incidents that allow us to improve safety into the future.

From the safety department, I would like to wish everyone a happy and safe end to 2021 and bluer skies for 2022. Thank you to our members who reported occurrences to RAAus throughout the year, and of course to our sponsors of National Safety Month who once again allowed us to give away more than $10,000 in prizes across the month of October.

For more information on our top safety focus areas and what you can do to help avoid these occurrences from happening to you, go to, or see the safety tab within the RAAus member portal.