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The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter.

New Zealand News

Airways worried about the cyber attack threat

During the NZALPA Annual Conference, NZ Herald Aviation Reporter Grant Bradley spoke to Airways New Zealand’s Head of Strategy Trent Fulcher about the threat of a cyber attack.

Airways is worried about the threat of a cyber attack on the air traffic control system and is searching around the world for ways to prevent it.

As the state owned enterprise moves towards more automated towers, its chief technology officer is overseas looking for ways of preventing its system being hacked.

Any such hack could have catastrophic consequences.

Head of strategy at Airways New Zealand, Trent Fulcher, said there had been increased focus on cyber security since the "WannaCry" ransomware attack that spread to more than 150 countries in May and dealt a crippling blow to Britain's national health system.

"It's absolutely front and centre from our board down to management - how we make our business more resilient to those kind of attacks. It's absolutely at the forefront of our thinking and our planning right now," he told the Herald.

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Cost of training pilots sees shortage begin to bite

A shortage in the supply of pilots is worsening because of the cost of training and worldwide demand, the New Zealand Herald’s Aviation Reporter Grant Bradley writes.

New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association president Tim Robinson said student loans covered only two-thirds of the cost of training for a commercial pilot licence and while not at crisis point, the shortage of pilots was starting to bite.

"There is a pilot shortage in New Zealand and we believe the issue is only going to get worse in the next few years - there's a lack of trained pilots going through the system to go on to employment," Robinson said.

It costs between $100,000 and $120,000 to get right through to a commercial pilots' licence, which is the minimum before going into an airline.

Student loans cover $70,000 of that.

The association, which held its annual meeting in Christchurch in June, is at odds with airlines in New Zealand over the impact on flights.

"They've had a number of cancellations through rostering of pilots. They say the cancellations have been more through operations issues, weather and airports but the pilot shortage is starting to move through the system and we're only going to start to see it increase in the next few years," said Robinson.

Jetstar said pilots were certainly in high demand but the airline had the numbers needed.

"While there is high demand for pilots worldwide, we currently have around 900 pilots across New Zealand and Australia, which adequately meets our flying requirements," said a spokesman.

Air New Zealand also said it had no shortage of regional pilots or cabin crew and attracted applicants from New Zealand as well as offshore.

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More screening for US-bound passengers from Auckland

Millions of passengers heading to the United States every week, including those from Auckland Airport, face extra screening but they have been spared a threatened wider ban on laptops in planes.

The United States has announced new security and screening measures for all commercial flights to the United States, but backed away from a proposal to expand a ban on laptops and other electronic devices bigger than cellphones.

"These measures will be both seen and unseen, and they will be phased in over time," said US Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly.

Besides more screening of electronic devices, there would be more thorough passenger vetting, with the new measures designed to reduce the potential threat of insider attacks.

"We will also lay out a clear path to encourage airlines and airports to adopt more sophisticated screening approaches, including better use of explosive detection canines and advanced checkpoint screening technology," he said.

The new screening would affect 105 countries, 280 airports, 180 airlines, 2100 flights and 325,000 passengers a day.

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Support grows for drone registration

The Taranaki Daily News reported that supporters of a registration scheme for drones have won over one of the local industry's leading innovators.

The Air Line Pilots’ Association appealed last month for an urgent review of drone rules in the wake of incidents where drones were spotted by police flying close to heliports on the West Coast.

Commercial drone industry pioneer Robyn Kamira has now backed the association's call for a drone registration scheme, agreeing that buyers should be required to register before or at the time of purchase.

The goal would be to ensure that if a drone was flown dangerously, its owner could be identified.

A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokeswoman said it was consulting with drone users on whether the existing rules were working for them, and wanted to develop more "integrated" policies in the longer term.

"But there are no immediate plans to review the rules around [drone] use in New Zealand," she said.

"At this stage, we still believe that the costs of administering a licensing system for [drones] would outweigh the benefits.”

A source said the CAA was caught in a conflict between safety concerns and the Government's desire not to stifle innovation.

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