As we go to print, NZALPA’s General Manager, Dawn Handforth, and I are about to have a bilateral meeting with Minister of Transport, Hon Phil Twyford. One of the big issues we’ll be discussing will be pilot supply issues – a topic that again hit media headlines recently.
Our key message to government is that pilot training supply levels are well below that required for the current growth rates in the New Zealand industry. This is exacerbated by the number of locally-trained pilots leaving New Zealand and seeking better paid jobs overseas to both increase their flying hours and pay off their student loans.
With the increasing demand for pilots in the Asia/Pacific region the opportunities for pilots to obtain overseas work are also increasing. This, coupled with the lack of general aviation piloting jobs back home for newly trained pilots that will actually pay the living wage, means we are losing many to offshore positions.
NZALPA believes that funding needs to increase for domestic pilot training and the industry as a whole also needs to improve the opportunities and working conditions of general aviation jobs. To us this is an obvious solution to ensure New Zealand trained pilots remain flying here and go on to have career paths that fill the growing demand within our airlines as well as the wider aviation sector.
The industry, as we continue to discuss with Aviation New Zealand and other stakeholders, needs to take a partnership approach, including with Government, to address these two main areas. This includes the airlines – who need to make a genuine contribution to assist with the pilot supply issue.
It was a busy but successful IFALPA Annual Meeting held in Luxembourg last month. High on the agenda was another issue of high public interest that NZALPA is currently discussing with the local regulator and the Minister – that of RPAS, or drones.
These devices are becoming a major focus for IFALPA, both in the technical and industrial arenas. IFALPA Member
Associations are being urged to engage with their regulators and operators to ensure the interests of both communities are addressed. This includes RPAS registration, education, licensing, airworthiness and integration of operators as a safe and responsible airspace user. Both ICAO and IFALPA now have RPAS/Drone committees - formed to develop and advocate for comprehensive RPAS/ drone rules and regulation.
It was acknowledged that technology is rapidly growing and developing in this area of the industry and that industry bodies and regulators will have to work efficiently and diligently to keep pace with its growth.
The Luxembourg Conference proved a particularly notable one for New Zealand with NZALPA confirmed to host the Association of Star Alliance Pilots (ASAP) Conference in New Zealand later this year, and the election of NZALPA pilot
member David Griffin to the IFALPA representative role of Executive Vice President South Pacific (RVPSOP). More about the Luxembourg Conference features in this issue.
Finally I was delighted to return to duty and learn that, after much negotiation by the hardworking PAN team, Airways has agreed to sign up to the PAN New Zealand programme. This is great news for our Air Traffic Controller
membership and for our strengthening relationship with Airways.
Have a safe month.