constantly evolving. What was acceptable
a generation ago may no longer be appropriate today e.g. smoking in public
places, environmental degradation for profit, discrimination, not recycling, even
certain types of language and gesture.
be uncomfortable and we might be tempted to resist it. Sometimes it means sacrifice for those who have
previously enjoyed advantage from certain activities or behaviour which is no
Australia there is a significant problem caused by the questionable evolution of
aviation ethics. Australian society now
has a very keen sense of what it means to treat people with respect, participate
in the community, care for the environment, not take advantage of others, be
fair in business dealings and so forth.
Without doubt the main reason for the sluggishness of aviation change is its self regulation. Moreover no government has given society a
legitimate role in matters to do with the impacts of aviation and there are
almost no sensible environmental standards or independent and objective policing
of aviation. In addition there are groups
which continue to make a lot of money from the heavily subsidised business of flying,
like the property developers which run airports.
aviation bodies like the Civil Aviation Safety Authority have all but abandoned
their environmental responsibilities and given first priority to the task of
avoiding criticism and perpetuating their self regulation. This means they are inclined to ignore or
confound some safety and environmental issues if they are perceived to be an
attack on their authority or practices.*
The Aviation bureaucracy
manages to side step much of its social accountability by being fragmented. Related activity and responsibility are split
across jurisdictions. It is a classical
political ploy. Even after exhaustive
lobbying the best outcomes are never more than reviews and bland recommendations. Actions are split across the jurisdictions,
inevitably watered down by the impermeability of the public service, a growing
sense of powerlessness in the community and the passage of time.
line is that no one is accountable for the big picture: the whole picture. The powerful interests groups are happy to perpetuate
notions of people needing air transport, a reverence for smartly dressed pilots,
the marvel of aeronautical engineering and so forth, but the number one interest is helping
themselves to the rich rewards.
time for Australian aviation to grow up and join the people.
communities and our environments should not be optional for any business or interest group. There will still be plenty of sky left over after
aviation enters the current age of ethical practice. Sure there will be some grumbles, perhaps
scenic joy flights, loud helicopters and intensive urban training will get
moved on, but just how much urban sky does the aviation industry really need for these
Somewhere we lost sight of
the fact that the sky belongs to all of us – it’s a commons, not an aviation playground.
* If the Police
Force was responsible for the statistics of crime and road traffic offences, it
would be in its interests not to be too diligent with its enforcement
activities. It would try to give the
impression that crime prevention, road usage and driver behaviour was well managed. This is the dilemma faced by the Civil
Aviation Safety Authority. Naturally it
does not want to be criticised - but at what cost to its theoretical role? The Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Air Services
Australia should be one department. This
is the only way to achieve better transparency and accountability and
ultimately to advance the ethics of aviation.
The function of policing aviation and issues to do with environmental compliance
should be the role of another body and certainly not one which is seeking to
protect itself or an imaginary image.