Day One

Morning Session

NZALPA Conference 2017 was opened by our President, Tim Robinson, who welcomed attendees and our special guests.

The first order of business was to describe the process of ensuring quorum and organising proxies. Paul Robinson was also appointed as the Returning Officer, as he was last Conference. Previous years minutes, awards nominations, and the remits, were all dealt with before we heard from the Principal Officers.

Each of the Principal Officers presents a report to Conference and then take questions, if any, from the delegates. These reports are normally an extension of the written version that is published in the NZALPA Annual Report.

The first report was given by President Tim Robinson, followed by Vice President Kim George. Industrial Director, Dean Fotti, who is stepping down from the role after four years spoke next. Dean spoke of some of the highlights he had experienced over his time as Industrial Director. We would all like to thank Dean for his time and dedication to the role of Industrial Director. Incoming ATC Director Jim Dunn spoke on behalf of outgoing ATC Director, Jonathan Brooks, who was unable to attend today. We would also like to extend our thanks to Jonathan for his work as ATC Director.

Following a short intermission, delegates returned to listen and partake in a two hour discussion with this years Conference panel.


Panel Discussion - 'The liberalisation of airspace - challenges and opportunities'

This years panel was moderated by Mr Karl Perry. Karl commenced by introducing the panel and asking each panel member to give a brief outline of what "liberalisation" means for their area of industry and expertise. This years panel included:

  • Mr Trent Fulcher – Head of Strategy - Airways New Zealand
  • Mr John Nicholson – CEO – Aviation New Zealand
  • Mr Patrik Peters - President and CEO - IFATCA
  • Mr Simon Lutton– Executive Director, Australian Federation of Air Pilots
  • Capt. Tim Robinson – President - NZALPA

Following each members outline of what "liberalisation" meant to them, Karl asked the panel poignant questions about the obstacles, solutions to those obstacles and the safety implications of airspace liberalisation. Karl also questioned the panel on the impact and effects of disruptive technologies on providing Air Traffic Control and how we might overcome these through collaboration. A discussion was also had around how the use of technology was allowing airspace liberalisation globally.

Following this, Karl asked each panelist to provide the delegates with one piece of insight that they had obtained during the discussion.

The following is a summary of the panel discussion. Please note that the summary may not reflect the individual views of the panelists.

  1. Liberalisation is about increased competition, capacity and choice. From a cost perspective, liberalisation is beneficial to consumers. It does, however, expose legacy providers to the risks of disruptive technologies impacting on parts the industry value chain and safety. New Zealand is becoming a part of the global marketplace and is no longer protected by its geography.
  2. Liberalisation, increased competition and capacity has the potential to provide increased economic opportunities, however there is a real risk that competition will negatively impact the labour market. There is potential for a reduction in employment terms and conditions.
  3. Airlines are now able to structure their companies in such a way that certain portions of the company fall under different state jurisdictions. They may have their finance and capital assets in one state for tax purposes, regulatory oversight in a different state and obtain labour from a another state.
  4. The technology is available to provide air traffic control services from remote locations, which have a cheaper cost base. There are people in the industry who believe that this would be best for air traffic control.
  5. Training is key to overcoming the threats of liberalisation and increased demand for capacity. Growth without adequate training is a real safety risk for the industry – safety is no longer a given.
  6. Pilot training currently competes on lowest-cost. For many mainstream education providers reputation is highly important and most people do not want cheap. We should consider changing the approach from low cost to high quality and reputational. New Zealand and Australia have an advantage over our Asian neighbours in terms of training facilities for pilots.We need to take advantage of this.
  7. Technological change is an issue for legacy ANSPs. For example, there are non-ANSP companies looking at entering the market for control of UAVs at low levels. Collaboration between ANSPs may reduce some of the risk.
  8. The traditional pathway to becoming an airline pilot has been disrupted by the introduction of cadet schemes. Poorly structured cadet schemes can reduce the quality of training. Whilst there is a place for these schemes, it should not be the only way into the industry.
    Where there is a shortage of pilots, airlines tend to take on low hour pilots. This can have a dramatic impact on small general aviation operators and training schools, where they may lose their instructor base. This reduction in instructors will again, reduce the quality of training
    The cost of pilot training in New Zealand is very high. Most of this cost will paid for through a student loan, although the loan does not cover the full cost of training. If young pilots are unable to obtain jobs in New Zealand that pay enough to allow repayment of their debt, they may start looking overseas. A relationship between training schools, employers and low hour pilots needs to be established so that we can move towards improved industry standards and career progression pathways for new pilots. 
  9. The industry needs to lobby the public, media and government in order to help people understand the issues. We need to help the public look beyond the lowest cost option when choosing an airline.
  10. There are a lot of issues common to both air traffic controllers and pilots on the topic of airspace liberalisation. These two sides of the industry should be working together to ensure that the industry stays safe and professional. Furthermore, unions need to collaborate with employers to ensure that companies are able to survive in a competitive market but at the same time, ensure adequate conditions and security for their staff.


Afternoon Session

After lunch, Medical and Welfare Director, Herwin Bongers presented his Principal Officer report. Herwin provided delegates with Powerpoint presentation on NZALPA's Member Assistance Programmes, with details of the Peer Support Network (PAN), Critical Incident Response Programme (CIRP) and HIMS. Hewin also spoke about the NZALPA Professional Standards Programme and Insurance. Herwin will be stepping down from the role of Medical and Welfare Director at the end of Conference. We would like to thank Herwin for the passion, dedication, time and effort he has put into this role.

Our Guest Keynote Speaker, Labour Party M.P. Sue Moroney, addressed the Conference on issues of safety and transportation within New Zealand. Her presentation was brief, as she allowed generous amounts of time for questions and statements from the floor. There were no shortage of question about Labour Party policies on various issues, aviation or otherwise.

Next we concluded the Principal Officer's reports. Technical Director, Hugh Farris, discussed the topic of "Big Data" and the issues around ownership and protection of such data. IFALPA Director, Dean Fotti, commented on how well our members are doing compared to their counterparts overseas. This is mostly to do with the hard work that previous NZALPA members have put in to contract negotiations. Lastly we heard from Secretary, James Jarvis.

The last item of the day was award nominations. NZALPA is proud to announce that Garth McGearty has received Life Membership and that there are three Scroll of Merit awardees - Herwin Bongers, Dave Mainwaring and Gary Parata.

Cocktail Function

The Conference Cocktail Party is a time where delegates can kick back, relax, socialise and network with other members and Conference guests. The Cocktail Function also provides the perfect opportunity for NZALPA to give recognition to and award those members who have demonstrated outstanding service and/or support to the union and/or its members. 

We presented three awards and four retirement glasses at this evenings function. These awards were the Jim Collins Memorial Award, the Captain Greg Vujcich Memorial Award and the inaugural Stewart Cameron Memorial Award.

Retirement glasses were presented to David Earle, Steve Cropp, John Grieve and Graeme Palliser, all from Air New Zealand.

This year, the Captain Greg Vujcich Memorial Award (GVMA), which was presented by Joan Vujcich, was awarded to Paul Kearney. The GVMA is presented to an individual or individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to General Aviation flying instruction.

The Jim Collins Memorial Award (JCMA), presented by Stuart Leighton, was awarded to Allan Baker for his exceptional contribution to aviation safety. The JCMA is presented to an individual or individuals who performed acts of exceptional airmanship, gave long service or made other significant contributions associated with New Zealand Civil Aviation. Allan Baker was given this award due to his steadfast commitment to the mental wellbeing of aviation professionals and his commitment to seeing a peer assistance network established for pilots and air traffic controllers.

The Stewart Cameron Memorial Award (SCMA), presented by Deborah Cameron, was awarded to Graeme Milligan. The SCMA shall be presented to an individual or individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to aviation industry peer support.

Stewart Cameron was a well-respected Air Traffic Controller, instructor, and member of NZALPA, who experienced a period of psychosocial impairment.  People in the aviation industry are particularly vulnerable to stress. It is a recognised significant risk due to the nature of the aviation industry and innate human fragility.  As a consequence of his sudden death to suicide on 3 September 2013, NZALPA has created this award in order to recognise persons making an outstanding contribution to peer support for NZALPA members.  NZALPA also wanted to ensure an enduring reminder of the importance of mental wellness and peer support within the aviation industry.

Congratulations Paul, Allan and Graeme.