New Zealand Pilots Call for Harsher Penalties for Laser Attacks
The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) is calling for harsher penalties for users as the number of laser attacks on aircraft continues to rise.
The New Zealand Herald reported Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) figures showing that there has been an increase in laser incidents from 152 incidents in 2016, to 155 incidents by the end of November 2017.
Tim Robinson, President of NZALPA explained to the national media that, for a number of pilots, the temporary blindness and resulting headaches caused by the lasers is “one of the most terrifying things they’ve ever gone through”.
“Lasers are not toys and pilots and air traffic controllers have been very concerned that it would only be a matter of time before a serious accident would result from such dangerous and irresponsible use.”
A CAA spokeswoman Philippa Lagan expressed the concern of the CAA saying that the dangers are particularly evident for smaller aircraft and helicopters that only have one pilot on board.
“While people may think it’s a fun thing to do the implications are a massive concern,” Lagan said.
NZALPA is pushing for laser attacks to be considered an equivalent offence to aircraft highjackings and bomb threats.
Currently laser attack perpetrators can face up to three years in jail, or a fine of $2000 if convicted of possession of a high-power laser, or up to 14 years in jail if convicted under the Crimes Act for endangering transport.
The CAA is working with the police and NZALPA to raise awareness of the risks of using lasers, but is also considering other options if the current trends continue.
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Greater Information for Drone Users
The increased use of drones, or RPAS, has prompted safety officials to ramp up education efforts about their safe use and where to use drones in New Zealand.
Radio New Zealand reported that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) wants drones sold in New Zealand to be accompanied with a guide or sticker reminding people about the use of rules relating to drones.
With increased popularity of drone use, many people are unaware of the restrictions. The CAA’s Deputy Director of General Aviation Steve Moore said “A lot of people that are using drones...don’t have an aviation background and so just simply don’t realise there are rules that they have to abide by to keep everyone safe.”
Rules are designed to keep drones and their operators away from other aircraft and people. Under current aviation rules drones cannot be flown within a controlled airspace without permission from local air traffic control, or within 4km of an airport or helicopter port without the approval of the airport operator.
The education programme will be launched in 2018. It will include leaflets and stickers as well as social media and television campaigns, and working with Customs to education tourists coming into the country.
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Investigation launched into Queenstown skydiving accident
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has opened an inquiry following a fatal skydiving crash in Queenstown on 10 January this year.
The New Zealand Herald reported that Mark Horning, the safety director of the New Zealand Parachute Industry Association is also in Queenstown helping out with the investigation.
Tyler Nii, 27, of California, is missing and presumed dead, after he and his tandem –skydiving instructor plunged into Lake Wakatipu while on a jump with skydive firm NZONE.
The NZONE instructor was rescued from the water about 20 minutes after the accident with minor injuries. Police diving experts were still searching for Tyler Nii’s body in the lake which is up to 250 metres deep.
Horning told journalists that, “…standard practice around the world would be for the tandem pair to utilise their flotation device and disconnect from each other in the event of a water landing, as staying connected would make it more difficult for each person to swim.”
Emergency water-landing procedures are contained within the “approved exposition” section of the Civil Aviation Regulations Part 115, which includes adventure aviation.
Why Nii drowned, will form part of investigations.
NZONE, which had voluntarily suspended operations after the accident, resumed operations on 14 January.
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Former Wanganui and Hunterville Pilot is awarded NZ Order of Merit
In the New Year’s Day Honours former topdressing pilot, Denis Hartley, was awarded the NZ Order of Merit recognising his services to aviation and rescue services.
Hartley has a flying career spanning over 60 years. The New Zealand Herald reported that Hartley began flight training in 1957 with the Wanganui Aero Club. Following a serious flying accident in 1968, he began flying helicopters. During his career he established the East Cape Rescue Trust which equipped first response rescue squads throughout the East Cape region with emergency equipment.
As a flight instructor and flight examiner, Hartley has trained a number of pilots in New Zealand, China, Taiwan and India. He has also pioneered methods of helicopter live-line insulator washing and human-sling helicopter maintenance.
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