The NZALPA Annual Conference 2017, held in Christchurch in June, was also an opportunity for airline pilots and air traffic controllers to mix with other NZALPA members. This included those involved in the general aviation (GA) area – representing a fast growing sector of the Association’s membership.
For Michael Kirchhain, a member of NZALPA’s L3 Airline Academy Council (formerly CTC) and a flight instructor at L3 Airline Academy’s purpose-built Crew Training Centre at Hamilton International Airport for the last seven years, this was his second time at an NZALPA Annual Conference.
Working with NZALPA Advocate, Tom Buckley, who works closely with members and employers throughout the varied GA sector, they both see NZALPA branch activities and the Annual Conference as excellent opportunities for members to learn from each other, meet useful contacts and create potential sources of support.
Kirchhain said he felt proud ‘carrying the flag’ for GA and he found real interest from all members in both the challenges they were facing and the fact that he really cared about his colleagues, those he trained, and the industry.
There was also support to improve GA representation in NZALPA at a national level, including the potential to create a GA Council for all GA members.
“We’ll be discussing how we can get this initiative going, along with increasing collaboration with other GA operators, as well as through our current membership. We’d really like to help achieve change for the better like NZALPA have already done with our airline pilot colleagues,” Kirchhain said.
Another L3 Council member who also attended this year’s Conference was fellow flight instructor Teresa Lamont. An NZALPA member for two and a half years, Lamont also works for L3 Airline Academy in Hamilton, where facilities provide cadet airline training and accommodation for more than 200 trainee pilots.
Like Kirchhain, Lamont really enjoyed the ‘vibe’ of the conference, and, as a first time attendee, was looking forward to learning more about the operations of the organisation, particularly since she joined the L3 Council six months ago.
“It really helped me understand policy and how things worked. I felt a little ‘fresh and green’ and there was a lot more than I thought to the workings of the association and I found the annual general meeting process really interesting,” Lamont said.
“The formality of the voting I found assuring and I saw how the organisation operates on this fairness system
“The most rewarding session for me [at this year’s Conference] was the forum on the liberalisation of airspace and hearing about relevant and interesting issues that would pop up in the near future [with NZALPA]
“It is great to be part of a group that is going to identify issues and work together to mitigate the negative effects of liberalisation on the aviation industry”.
Both flight instructors enjoyed socialising with members of different ages and levels of experience.
Lamont felt a greater sense that NZALPA’s purpose and values stretch beyond joining for the medical or legal backup and the insurances.
“It is a community of people who care about protecting each other. A camaraderie who have worked together throughout their careers. At the formal dinner, time was made to award and honour the hard work and dedication of long serving members, which is something to aspire to.”