Uplink ALPA - The Voice of Aviation

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

IAOPA World Assembly


More than 170 delegates from around the world recently descended on Queenstown for the International Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s (IAOPA) World Assembly. This is but a snap-shot of the week. Please do feel free to contact me should you wish to find out more about the other issues discussed during the week of the assembly.

The ‘top line’ attendees and speakers, which included the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)’s Secretary General and Regional Directors, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (NZCAA) Directors and trade bodies from Europe, gave some idea of how highly the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) is viewed.

The assembly, which ran from March 25 – 29, covered a range of topics from medical standards to technology, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV’s), ADS-B and automation. A surge in the growth of UAV’s (more commonly known as RPAS or drones) is presenting at least as many challenges for AOPA as it is for the rest of the industry.

Unfortunately, not much solace was offered with regards to tackling these challenges – that is unless you have a side line in UAV operations!

The devices were a major theme for the World Assembly.

ICAO also recognises the related challenges with UAV’s as it struggles in attempts to agree on standards and practices, let alone future proof them. ICAO’s message? ‘Get involved’ in supporting ICAO through your member states and representative groups, to jointly work together towards ensuring their safe integration.

In particular, ICAO asked AOPA delegates to support work on the areas currently outside controlled airspace which are set to become areas of intense UAV operations. This drew many a short breath, particularly when ICAO also shared its view that visual flight rule (VFR) as we know it, will disappear in the not too distant future.

CASA Director Shane Carmody, believed that the biggest issue was that of UAV integration into existing airspace, given the currently available technology. He was extremely proud of CASA working with ‘Google Wing’ in the State Capital, particularly over a network enabling the delivery of burritos in Canberra! They were both fresh and warm and arrived within 10 minutes he espoused with some pride. Mr Carmody also mentioned that UAV networks were enabling the delivery of medical supplies in some Australian states using similar technology.

NZCAA Director Graeme Harris referred to the increasing speed in developing, constructing and certifying products, including conventional aircraft, and believed this would soon be measured in weeks, not years.

New Zealand was also in the game of developing low-level UAV technology highlighting co-operation between the CAA and Cora - developer of the ‘Kittyhawk’ autonomous aircraft in Canterbury (see HERE).

The US Aviation manufacturer’s trade body, GAMA, was actively encouraging manufacturers in the US to look to New Zealand if developing UAV technology, due to our ‘flexible regulatory regime’ and the willingness of the government to collaborate on development.

The concluding view of AOPA was that it supported the safe and responsible development of UAVs – but stressing that they needed to fit into existing structures, as opposed to existing structure being changed to accommodate UAVs.

They firmly believed, however, that the reverse was now actually happening.



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