Just some discussion notes about the Australian Aerobatic Club's Regulations (current version March 2010). The Contest Director is responsible for "conducting the contest in accordance with AAC ... Regulations" (I won't include CIVA rules in this discussion). They'll never be perfect but they should be continually reviewed and amended as appropriate to reflect how we want to run contests. i.e. we expect the Contest Director to follow the rules at the time.
4.3 REASONS FOR DISQUALIFICATION
"b) Technical Devices - the use of technical devices for the purpose of coaching during a competition flight is prohibited."
Seems to me that some people use video cameras on board the aircraft during a competition flight so are they cheating or not?
"Abuse of any contest official or other contestant is grounds for disqualification from the contest."
From the introduction, the AAC "acts through the Australian Sport Aviation Confederation" which has an anti-doping policy covering all sport aviation members from 1 January 2009. "This Anti-Doping Policy shall apply to each Participant in the activities of ASAC or any of its Member organisations by virtue of the Participant's membership, accreditation, or participation in ASAC, its Members, or their activities or Events." So, it seems to me that this policy applies to AAC events.
In addition, "All members of ASAC member organisations have a duty to uphold the good name of ASAC and the air sports community. They must not tolerate harassment, discrimination or abuse, physical or mental, on other members of that community or of society as a whole." It seems to me that the ASAC code of ethics applies to the AAC and its members. If the Contest Director is responsible for conducting the contest in accordance with AAC Regulations so a participant is right to expect that to be done - the Contest Director may have a valid reason to do otherwise however I would not expect a Contest Director to simply bully contestants into actions contrary to the rules.
4.6 PILOT BRIEFING
"k) It is recommended that, when possible. a "warm up" flight for the judges and contestants be flown in Known and Unknown programmes by a pilot who is a non-competing pilot. Such pilot shall fly the low altitude line(s)."
I have rarely seen a warm up flight, certainly not in recent memory so if this is not going to be done the rule should be removed.
Note also rule 3.17 a) whereby "All competitors will be allowed one training flight for familiarisation with the local conditions over the performance zone." There has been much discussion on this point over the years, often in the context of familiarity with the contest venue providing undue advantage. The related rule 3.17 d) forbidding other practice flights is also relevant as such flights were argued to also provide additional undue advantage (notwithstanding that some competitors arrive at the contest site far ahead of the contest to practice with no restrictions).
This warm-up pilot flies the low altitude limits, not the first competitor. Having the first competitor fly the low altitude lines is njot provided for under any rule and would seem to be contrary to the spirit of the rules forbidding extra practice thereby gaining additional familiarisation.
4.14 TIME LIMITATIONS
"a) A time limit of 15 minutes will apply for ..... Graduate, Sportsman and Intermediate Programmes. This will deem to start when the competitor is called into the Performance Zone ...". Aerobatic aircraft have vastly different climb performance. Some will get from take-off to altitude in less than a minute. Others may take 10 minutes. The same discrepancy is displayed with the time between the safety check manoeuvres and commencement of the sequence. The same discrepancy will show up for any break.
To be fair, each competitor should have available the same amount of time in the performance zone. Total time should be allocated to aircraft of varying performance to allow equal participation in the contest. i.e. either reduce the time limit for high performance aircraft or increase it for lower performance aircraft. Three categories of performance would seem to be workable.
Also, the variable start of timing is clearly not fair. Some pilots are called into the box from the holding area, some from take-off and some upon completion of flying the lower limits for the judges. In a very high performance aircraft the different applications may not matter however in a low performance aircraft the different applications are very significant. The commencement of timing should be clarified so that low performance aircraft are not unduly penalised.