As an introduction, the year 2018 and early 2019 has proven to be significantly challenging, borne out of the significant changes that the recreational aviation environment in South Africa has seen. In this regard, we could not have steered our way through these challenges without the commitment of all of our Council members and the Exco, and would to thank our vice chairman and treasurer as well as our outgoing GM Alan Evan-Hanes as well as the Aero Club Office staff for the dedication and contribution during the 2018 / 2019 year.
We were in attendance at many of the section events throughout the year. In September the Aero Club took part in the biennial AAD show held at AFB Waterkloof and promoted recreational aviation to the many visitors that come to this Exhibition and Air Show.
During the 2018 / 2019 period the annual Aero Club Airweek was held twice at Middelburg, and this year was held in conjunction with the Middelburg Flying Club who hosted an Air Show. This was a successful event and many thanks to Richard Lovett and the Middelburg flying club with their assistance. In November the Aero Club Annual Awards banquet was held at the Wanderers club in Johannesburg. This prestigious function was well attended and the various sections that competed nationally and internationally were awarded for their continued efforts
This year has also seen some significant changes in the structure of the Aero Club. Our vice chairman took on the very onerous task to ensure that the correct governance going forward was in place. One of the major tasks undertaken was to revise the Aero Club of South Africa NPC Constitution and Memorandum of Incorporation which required a Special General meeting to be called to bring this into effect. This was done on the 30th of October 2018 and came into effect on the 15th January 2019. There was a tremendous effort put in here by Rob Jonkers where seven draft versions that made up the changes with input from all the Aero Club Sections with Issue 1 now in place.
The Aero Club was also in attendance at the various advocacy forums that are held within the SA CAA and RAASA (up until the end of March 2019 in the case of RAASA). They are the CARCom , NASCom, CAA ILF, RAASA ILF, ATNS/ICASA, AVMed, Weather Services, PART 149 ARO's.
The AP scheme is under review and there are a number of serious issues that are being tackled with the SACAA as to the correct management and governance of this scheme. The Aero Club has historically managed this scheme from its origins of the the LS1 document to the now more complex APC 1, 2 & 3 requirements that now also incorporates commercial AP's, where interpretation and implementation has caused much frustration in the last years.
Prior to the RAASA inclusion into the SA CAA, the SA CAA called an ARO Round Table Stakeholder meeting to understand the ARO environment from the various Disciplines / Industries point of view. Three such meeting engagements were planned, of which two are concluded with a final one planned end of May 2019, so far fairly robust discussions were held on a number of fronts, with the prime aim to ensure the CAA gains the best understanding of our type of environment. The most significant meeting was the 3 day overview that was held in February, the first day being the most significant where each Section/ARO of the Aero Club could provide an overview of their Discipline and also showcase their Section/ARO, as such this was very well attended with many members giving up their time and at their own expense provide demonstrations. Day two was held by SAMAA which highlighted the SAMAA MOP and admin capabilities as well as a display of models and closed with a discussion on mutual participation. Day three was an indoor meeting that dealt with the implementation of the SA CAA plan and civil aviation regulatory issue that where tabled by the ARO's.
During the course of 2018 a situation was allowed by RAASA / SACAA to transpire whereby an ARO not affiliated to the Aero Club was established. This then perpetuated in the formation of an ARO Collective body that took up the mantle with the CAA to challenge having additional Recreational Organisations where overlapping disciplines are prevalent and already catered for by established ARO's. This could also mean that an ARO could represent a range of disciplines to the detriment to one or the other. This is still under discussion and a solution sought.
Membership has declined throughout each Section and hence the Aero Club year on year and this has been ascribed to various economic and other affordability reasons as a prime factor amongst others. The AeCSA Exco had to look at various scenarios of how the costs could be managed in order to ameliorate the current situation and ensure a long term sustainable solution. In the first quarter of 2019, some tough decisions had to be made, which resulted in a re-budget exercise which concluded that we could no longer afford the services of a GM, as such a mutual severance agreement was concluded, with further commitment from Council members that some of the prime functions executed by the GM would be distributed amongst us all. A Work Structure responsibility document was established and will form the basis of the work load with the responsible people standing in so that we can coordinate the activities without the function of the GM.
On other membership activities, the Blue Box AeroPay system provides the backbone of our member administration, now in its 3rd year, and we continue to improve on it. Our Insurance policies continue to be reviewed for maximum member benefits, particularly in the third party domain. The Aero Club's communication platform is partnered via Pilots Post also Social Media outlets are being developed.
The Aero club faces a number of challenges going forward particularly into our Centenary year however with the assistance of our council and the restructuring of duties, Aero Club we believe will be successful. It is extremely important that we continue as a professional lobbying force to the regulators as well as provide assistance and guidance to our recreational aviators irrespective of the type of craft that they fly.
A lot of effort in the past 12 months has gone into ensuring that the correct governance is in place with all the entities we interact with and draft SLA's have been put in place for our sections to interact more clearly knowing the roles and responsibilities so that we eliminate any stagnant issue that can arise. Many thanks to all our members that have participated in the events as well as the Section heads that have also provided input and guidance and tremendous support in the past year.
We are positioned despite our challenges to have a successful year ahead as we approach our centenary year in 2020.