The Australian Government’s recently-established General Aviation Advisory Group was due to meet for the first time during the Avalon air show as the country’s GA industry grapples with its ongoing decline.

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester announced formation of the group in February in an effort to improve consultation with the GA sector. “The GA Advisory Group will ensure the industry has a voice at the heart of government by providing advice directly to me on matters affecting the sector,” says Chester.

The group is headed by Martin Laverty, chief executive officer of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and includes representatives from companies involved in GA maintenance, manufacture and training.

The group will feed into the government’s ongoing GA Study that was launched last year, and which is due to be completed by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics in June. The study is looking at the current state of the Australian GA sector, identifying challenges and potential opportunities.

The government’s focus on GA follows concerns raised by the Aircraft Owners and Pilot Association (AOPA) and the Australian Aviation Associations Forum (TAAAF) on the decline of the once vibrant sector. AOPA says that the country’s once flourishing GA industry “is now slowly dying” and “collapsing under the weight of regulation”.

In order to arrest its decline, AOPA has proposed policies and initiatives to revitalise the industry in its Project Eureka brief to government issued last year. AOPA has identified nine areas that need “bold and innovative policy reform” in order to revitalise the industry, including flight regulations and operations; industry funding and taxes; flight training; aviation medicine; airspace management; engineering/manufacturing and future technologies.

Amongst its recommendations, AOPA calls for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to be absorbed back into the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development for oversight purposes; an airports policy to prevent loss and degradation of GA industries and infrastructure; US FAA-style rules to replace Civil Aviation Orders and regulations; inexpensive pathways for aviation apprenticeships; and harmonised medical certification between recreational and GA pilots.