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The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter. As of April 2020 Uplink ALPA is a 6-monthly publication.

New Zealand News

Drone endangered fire-fighting pilots’ lives

Chilean man Jorge Riquelme-Cruz has been ordered to forfeit his drone after being sentenced for endangering the lives of fire-fighting helicopter pilots near Wanaka.

On 3 January 2018, seven helicopters were forced to ground when a drone was spotted in the vicinity of Mt Roy. The Court heard that during this time over two hours of helicopter time was lost, causing an additional 10ha of scrub lost to the fire.

Radio New Zealand News reported that Riquelme-Cruz was charged under the Civil Aviation ­Act for operating an unmanned drone in a manner that caused unnecessary danger to the pilots and their helicopters.

Judge Kim Saunders refused a request for a discharge without conviction, saying the offending was simply too serious.  

At one stage, the drone flew as close as 50m to one helicopter, causing a genuine risk of collision. Riquelme-Cruz claimed that he thought he was operating the drone at a safe distance, but admitted that he had made a mistake.

Judge Saunders wanted Riquelme-Cruz to pay reparation of $4000 or undertake 200 hours of community service.  However, Riquelme-Cruz did not have the funds to do so and his 12-month visa expired the following week.

Judge Saunders accepted the forfeiture of his drone would help in compensating for the costs of grounding the helicopters.

Read the full story >

Drone ban sought over Lake Te Anau

Meanwhile, Stuff recently reported that Southern Lakes Helicopters wants drones banned from the Lake Te Anau waterfront after several close calls between drones and aircrafts.

Over the past 12 months Operations Manager of Southern Lakes Helicopters, Lloyd Matheson, said he had spoken to four tourists oblivious to the rules of drone usage.

Last year, Matheson said, a drone almost caught in the tail rotor of a landing helicopter.

“The pilot was so concerned he rushed out and virtually physically grabbed the guy and said, ‘you just about killed us all.”

Matheson said he had started discussions with the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the local district council to impose a bylaw to prevent drone use on the lake front. At the very least signage is needed around tourist areas to remind tourists of the rules.

DOC National Support and Advice Manager Astrid Nunns explained drone operators have to comply with the relevant Civil Aviation Rules.  Information is available through DOC information centres and district offices.

Currently there is no record of how many complaints nationally DOC receives and they are generally dealt with on a regional basis.

Read the full story >

Second runway at Auckland Airport to be longer and louder

The Auckland International Airport Company (AIAC) has announced its plans to build a second runway north of the international terminal.

Stuff reported  that the new runway is planned to be operational by 2028, however it has been in the pipeline since 2002, when AIAC obtained resource consent to construct a second runway. Auckland International Airport now plans to extend this second runway by 833 metres.

The purpose of this extension is to ‘future-proof’ the runway and make it suitable for wide-bodied aircrafts such as the Boeing 787s and Airbus A380.

Although the project will have benefits to the economy in the Auckland region, the proposed changes will have noise effects on up to 475 residents, Stuff reported.

Auckland International Airport is expecting a doubling of visitors in the next 25 years with passenger numbers forecast to reach 40 million a year by 2044, up from 19 million in 2017.   

Airport spokeswoman Lisa Mulitalo said that timing was absolutely critical.

“It’s an expensive asset. If it turns up early that cost is going to be worn by airlines and travellers, and if it turns up late you’ll have congestion or limited services.

Read the full story >

New Zealand’s own leaning tower nears completion

The new air traffic control tower in Wellington is nearing completion.  The $18 million building had been dubbed the “the leaning tower of Rongotai” as it has been designed with a 12.5 degree angle to give the impression that it is leading into the wind.

The New Zealand Herald reported that construction on the building will be finished in March this year, and operational by July.

Wellington Airways Air Traffic Controllers will be trained in a simulator to prepare them for the new working environment. There will be a handover period where the existing and new towers will operate at the same time.

Read the full story >

Strong objections to Air New Zealand’s new safety video

Television New Zealand’s One News recently reported that a family, whose mother was killed in the 1979 Air New Zealand fatal crash into Mt Erebus in the Antarctic, would have strongly objected to the new Air New Zealand safety video if the airline had contacted them.

David Ling, said the safety video was “crass, arrogant and disrespectful” to the 257 who died in the Mt Erebus disaster in 1979.

“It should be stopped,” Mr Ling said.

Air New Zealand has defended the video saying it had contacted all of the families on the database, and had received very positive responses from families of Erebus victims. It apologised if anyone had not been emailed.

Director Kevin Denholm, said “We are very conscious that Antarctica is of great significance to the families of those lost in the Mt Erebus tragedy and contacted family representatives to advise of the decision to film and the rationale behind this.”

“We certainly empathise with the perspective of any family member who is unhappy with this news.”

The video is due to be released on Air New Zealand carriers in March this year.

Read the full story >

Humanity Star slammed as ‘space graffiti’

Astronomers across the world are labelling the Rocket Lab ‘Humanity Star’ space graffiti. Newshub reported that although the purpose of the humanity star was to ‘get people to go outside and look up’, some people who look up as a living are outraged.

The Humanity Star is a metre tall carbon fibre geodesic sphere resembling a disco ball. 

“Most of us would not think it cute if I stuck a big strobe-light on a polar bear, or emblazoned my company slogan across the perilous upper reaches of Everest,” wrote Columbia University Director of Astrobiology Caleb Scharf for the magazine Scientific American.

University of Auckland physicist Richard Easter explained that “This one instance won’t be a big deal but the idea of it becoming commonplace, especially at larger scales, would bring astronomers out onto the street.”

The Humanity Star could be viewed over New Zealand on February 24.

The Humanity Star will reportedly burn up in the atmosphere once it finishes its orbit, in about nine months’ time.

Read the latest on Rocket Lab’s plans >

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