Commodore Drew McKinnie RANR is Chair of the Operations Panel and Head of Operations Department in the Gliding Federation of Australia (GFA), which manages the operations of gliders, sailplanes and powered sailplanes in Australia. He started gliding in 1971 at Woomera, SA, and now flies with Canberra Gliding Club at Bunyan, just North of Cooma NSW. A keen gliding instructor, he has been a gliding CFI for 12 years, was Regional Manager Operations for NSW, and now as Chair of Operations oversees all gliding operations, training, operational safety and investigations and responses to occurrences, as well as GFA’s operational interactions with CASA, ATSB, ASA and other organisations. He is a strong advocate for improving education and training systems design, as well as accident and incident reporting systems. Over the last three years he has worked in collaboration with RAAF and Defence Cadets Branch on the reinvigoration of AAFC gliding, and management of those assets within GFA operations and airworthiness systems. When not flying gliders, he also flies as a GA pilot, in a Grumman AA-5 Traveler, and often in a Pawnee PA-25-235 towing gliders into the sky.
Drew is also a Naval Officer, non-aircrew, with over 40 years’ service in Full time and Reserve roles. As a Commodore RANR, he is a technical member of the Defence Seaworthiness Board and other Independent Advisory Panels. In this role, he provides independent advice to Chief of Navy on the integrity of seaworthiness management systems including safety, environmental compliance and operational effectiveness outcomes. Having established the Navy Certification and Safety Branch in 2000, in the wake of the Westralia fire coroner’s inquest, he is experienced in developing stronger safety education, culture change, safety and risk assurance systems. His safety and risk management credentials at technical, operational, strategic and enterprise levels are well recognised.
When not occupied with Defence Seaworthiness and Gliding activities, Drew also works in industry as a Negotiation consultant and trainer, and as ACT Manager of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society. These activities are all best kept separate!