MINISTER OF TRANSPORT
As the Government’s new Minister of Transport, I’m excited by the year ahead for the aviation sector. When I took the helm last year, the International Air Transport Association’s director general had described 2017 as a “stellar” year for aviation safety. As the number of people taking to the skies increases – topping four billion passengers worldwide in 2017 – aviation’s remarkable safety record is to be applauded. Flying may now be seen as routine, but every year sees instances when the skill and professionalism of flight crew prevent disaster.
The Labour-led Government is committed to building on New Zealand’s strong record in aviation safety. That’s why we’re picking up the long-running update of the Civil Aviation Act and the Airports Authority Act – the Civil Aviation Reform Bill. This review is an opportunity to modernise, rather than fundamentally alter, the current regime. I plan to introduce this legislation this year and will be encouraging ALPA members to have their say.
I’m excited by new technology being introduced to improve air navigation and welcome progress being made in implementing New Southern Sky. The new National Airspace and Air Navigation Plan brings a number of benefits including shorter flight times, and the associated savings in fuel that will be made. New Southern Sky also brings safety benefits through more consistent landing approaches, including at Queenstown – one of our more challenging airports to fly into.
Aviation technology continues to develop in leaps and bounds; as do the skills required by aviation professionals to utilise this technology. Such skills are then passed through New Zealand’s workplace as people move jobs and change industries. This creates opportunities for New Zealand to generate valuable export dollars through flight training for foreign students. Our country is also well recognised internationally as having a flexible regulatory regime to manage innovative new technologies such as drones (or unmanned aerial vehicles). Drones are being used more and more commonly and across a wide range of sectors. When properly used, the potential use of drones is limitless. However, pilots more than anyone are aware drones are not risk-free and used improperly or recklessly, they can endanger others. The recent conviction of a drone operator for endangering helicopters pilots firefighting near Wanaka will help spread the message that safety remains paramount for everyone who uses our skies.
<< General Manager's Note Negotiations Update >>