Wellington Airport Runway Extension (RESA)

Update: Wednesday 13 July 2016

NZALPA’s request for a Judicial Review in relation to plans by Wellington Airport to extend its runway and more specifically its RESA have been declined by the High Court.

Our legal and technical team is currently reviewing the judgement, following which a decision will be made whether to appeal.

One of our main arguments is that the RESA being proposed for the runway extension is inadequate and that decisions around the RESA’s length were made more on the basis of cost than concerns about the safety of our members and the travelling public.

We wish to see the RESA at Wellington airport constructed in line with internationally accepted best practice of 240 metres - either by physically extending the 90 metres currently proposed by WIAL or by the use of an EMAS to provide equivalence.

An announcement regarding any appeal will be made in due course.

NZALPA has filed in the High Court in Wellington proceedings against the Wellington Airport Runway Extension citing the runway extension planned is too short for international safety standards

The union is seeking a declaratory judgement from the High Court about the rules governing safety areas at the end of a runway.

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association (NZALPA) Technical Director Rob Torenvlied said the safety area in Wellington was currently 90 metres.

He said he believed the law meant any extension should first include a Runway End Safety Area (RESA) of 240 metres, or an equivalent solution such as crushable concrete, which he said was considered international best practice.

Part 139 of the Civil Aviation Rules states: "A RESA must extend to a distance of at least 90 metres and, if practicable to a distance of at least 240 metres from the end of the runway strip."

Captain Torenvlied said because the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) was letting the airport go ahead with the runway extension, without extending the safety area, the union was seeking the judgement to clarify the correct interpretation of those rules.

"In our opinion, part 139 is quite explicit in that it mandates the provision of the 240 metre RESA when an airport extends its runway or builds a new one," he said.

"The director of the CAA has decided that the basic minimum of 90 metres is sufficient in the case of Wellington Airport - we disagree with him and therefore we have decided to seek this High Court interpretation."

The Civil Aviation Authority declined to comment until the judicial process concluded.

Decision could impact economic viability of extension

If the judge decides in favour of extending the RESA, it could undermine the economic case for extending the runway.