Regional airlines call for flight assistance

State and Federal Governments should bear some of the costs of rural flights to ensure struggling routes stay open, the Regional Aviation Association says.

The association says more than half the routes in operation 25 years ago have since closed because of rising costs and a lack of Government support.

The association recently met with five other aviation bodies after the Federal Government scrapped the En Route flight subsidy scheme.

Chief executive of Paul Tyrell says some regional airlines are in danger of closing as they wait for a replacement scheme.

"If it's just pure market, people have to look at the marginal routes," he said.

"They can't run them for nothing and the marginal routes are usually, to be frank, into the regional parts of Australia.

"We believe air transport is basic infrastructure for regional people and sometimes requires a partnership with Government.

In other words put our taxes to work." Mr Tyrell says leaving regional transport entirely up to market forces is denying some regional communities a key service.

"You can talk about markets.

We're very pro-markets but sometimes the markets don't deliver everything that a regional community needs.

"That requires a partnership between State, Federal and Local Government and the private sector and we're bringing that to the table with respect to aviation." Safety concerns Flight safety was also raised at the meeting, with a call for stronger regulations about building projects beneath flight paths.

The associations want a national database to include all tall buildings and structures such as smokestacks, powerlines and radio masts.

They say power companies should make network maps available to low-flying operations such as crop dusting and water bombing during bushfires.

Mr Tyrell also called for changes to the way student pilots pay for training programs.

He says HECS payments available to trainees learning through university programs are not available to those at independent flight schools.

"If you go through a school attached to a school that's attached to a university where it's a degree program or a diploma program, yes you can get it," he said.

"There are many other schools out there fully certified by [the Civil Aviation Safety Authority that] don't attract it.

"It's a Government policy that you have to be attached to an education institute of some sort.

Our view is it's unnecessary."

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