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.

News in Review

Hybrid aircraft concept


A round up of local and international stories since the last issue.



The New Zealand Herald recently reported that Air New Zealand has entered a partnership with US low-cost airline JetBlue Airways’ venture capitalist investors, JetBlue Technology Ventures, known for their interest in electric transport technology, including planes and electric ‘taxis’. 

JetBlue Technology Ventures (JTV) said it was looking at partnering with emerging companies to completely transform the travel industry, with Air New Zealand saying the partnership with JTV will mean access to ‘emerging technologies and an entrance into the Silicon Valley innovation environment.’

Together the companies said they wanted "to build a network to better address changes coming to the travel industry as well as improve efficiencies within the existing infrastructure."

Christopher Luxon, Air New Zealand Chief Executive was quoted as saying the national carrier had a “proud history of product innovation and the new deal was part of the aim of redefining air travel”.

Herald aviation reporter Grant Bradley reported that Luxon has spoken about the potential of hybrid electric planes for shorter flights in the next decade.

Full story at https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12087765

Air Chathams flight attendants
The company will operate 36 flights a week between Auckland and Kāpiti, a new regional route for the family-owned airline. It will offer 1152 seats per week on board its fleet of twin-engine turboprop Saab 340 aircraft, seating up to 36 passengers, with a flight attendant on board.


Air Chathams will operate a new regional flight service between Kāpiti and Auckland from 20 August.

Craig Emeny, the owner of Air Chathams, said that as a community focused company, the Kāpiti-Auckland route was a welcome addition to its flight schedule, which had grown steadily over the years thanks to its reputation for reliability and convenience.

“We think the route has a huge amount of potential, and we are really looking forward to getting to know the local community and delivering a quality flight service that residents can be proud of.”

Established in the mid-1980s on the Chatham Islands, flying live crayfish to the mainland, Air Chathams is New Zealand’s largest privately owned airline. It operates more than 80 flights per week between Auckland, Whakatane, Whanganui, Wellington, Christchurch and the Chathams.

Kāpiti Coast Airport is providing the airline a free premises lease for the first year, followed by a 33% discount on the lease previously paid by Air New Zealand for another two years, or during the period Air Chathams is building up its Kāpiti-Auckland service.

More news on Chatham’s new route can be found at https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/travel/2018/07/air-chathams-reinstates-flights-to-k-piti-coast.html

Green laser pointer glare


Police are investigating two more reports of laser strikes against Air New Zealand planes, this time within several hours of each other in the skies above the Waikato.

Stuff reported that in two separate incidents recently, both flights were on their way to Auckland Airport when a laser was pointed at a plane in Te Kauwhata, and another over Te Awamutu.

Waikato police Senior Sergeant Simon Cherry said that both pilots weren't injured but quite shaken.

One of them, the laser was going for 26 seconds - that would seem like a long time I would imagine. And that lit up the cockpit. It would cause a bit of concern with a plane full of passengers,” Senior Sergeant Cherry said

There have been other recent incidents in Morrinsville, Cambridge and Hamilton involving lasers being pointed at planes.

"The implications of such activity are a massive concern – police wish to highlight the dangers of such actions where it could lead to the potential loss of an aircraft or someone's life."

All reports of laser strikes are treated seriously by police and investigated. Charges for those caught can be significant, Cherry concluded.

Read the full story at https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/105390537/police-are-looking-for-people-pointing-lasers-at-planes-over-the-waikato

China Southern Aircraft


China Southern Airlines' direct service between Guangzhou and Christchurch will upgrade to the company's new flagship aircraft from October, Newshub reported.

The Boeing 787-9 planes have 30% more seats than the aircraft currently flying the direct route, as well as a new business class cabin.

Christchurch Airport Chief Aeronautical and Commercial Officer, Justin Watson, says the change was “…likely to add an extra $66 million in visitor spend".

"This airport is still the fastest growing entry point for Chinese visitors coming to New Zealand and growing at twice the national average, plus statistics show visitors arriving here internationally stay longer, see more and spend more," says Mr Watson.

This will likely appeal to those wanting to go onto Europe through China. Mr Watson also said the 787-9 will be able to carry about three extra tonnes of air freight.

From late October 2018, every day the new aircraft will fly directly between Christchurch and Guangzhou.

See the full story at https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/travel/2018/07/china-southern-airlines-to-use-boeing-787-9-on-christchurch-guangzhou-route.html


Boeing 747 Cockpit

EU commercial age restriction challenged

British industry publication Flyer recently reported on a challenge to the European Union regulation which prevents pilots from flying commercial aircraft once they turn 65 years old. 


A former captain for UK-based TUI Airways, is seeking a judicial review from the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in regard to their position since Wayne Bayley turned 65 earlier this year.  Captain Bayley served as a training captain for over two decades as well as four years as a fleet manager with TUI. 

Flyer reported that he passed all medical and competency examinations during his career at an above average level.

The EU Aircrew Regulations prevent commercial pilots from flying over the age of 59 unless in the cockpit with another pilot under the age of 60. Additionally, the upper limit of 64, which is the issue in this case, prohibits any flying even when alongside a younger pilot.

This is, of course, in contrast with legislation in Australia, New Zealand and Canada where there is legally no upper age limit restrictions on pilots, instead a pilot’s competency to fly is based on medical tests and evidence. 

Captain Bayley’s lawyers are seeking permission from the Administrative Court to proceed to a Judicial Review of the CAA and specifically to enforce the requirement that the CAA have due regard, under its statutory public sector equality duty, to the need to advance equality of opportunity to commercial pilots over the age of 64.

“I believe that the age limit of 64 for commercial pilots is out of date. With suitable medical examinations and precautions, it is perfectly safe for pilots over the age of 64 to fly commercially with another pilot under the age of 60.”


More at https://www.flyer.co.uk/pilot-challenges-eu-age-restriction-on-commercial-pilots/

Boeing 737 Max
The Boeing 737 Max was a popular buy among airlines at this year’s Farnborough Show.


The biannual Farnborough Air Show near London was dominated by deals for single-aisle planes this year, reported the Wall Street Journal.

However, industry specialists warned that increased pressure to deliver will be on the two largest producers, Airbus and Boeing, who will need to build at record pace  to meet this year’s $US43 billion in orders.

Airbus is apparently looking to increase output to meet new orders by a further 25%, despite supply chain challenges, while Boeing is more cautious.

The Wall Street Journal said that Airbus expects to start detailed talks later this year with its two single-aisle engine makers, CFM International, a joint venture of General Electric Co. and Safran SA, and United Technologies Corp’s Pratt & Whitney, about boosting output.

Full story at https://www.wsj.com/articles/boeing-and-airbus-land-43-billion-worth-of-airliner-orders-1531766992

Ryanair Aircraft


The Northern summer is in full swing in Europe but for a second-year industrial action and flight cancellations are affecting the fortunes of low-cost airline Ryanair.

Action notice has been given for the end of July by the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association (IALPA), a branch of Ireland’s newly amalgamated Fórsa trade union.  Now the country’s second biggest union has over 80,000 members, with its collective strength due to bring together members in the public service, as well as the commercial sector, state agencies, some private companies and in the community and voluntary sector.


ATW has reported that Ryanair was planning to cancel 300 flights on July 25 and 26 because of planned strikes by cabin crew in Belgium, Spain and Portugal, saying 50,000 of its 430,000 customers, or 12%, would be affected on each of the two days “because of strikes it described as “unjustified” given cabin crew’s pay and working conditions”.

Some pilots in Ireland had staged a 24-hour walkout on July 12 that forced the airline to cancel 30 flights between Ireland and the UK.

In a statement, the union said that despite finding some common ground in talks with Ryanair management on a proposal that a joint working group could help the parties agree on a fair and transparent method to govern base transfer arrangements and related matters, “...it had failed to reach agreement on the terms of reference for such a group".  The union said it was hoping that third-party facilitation could assist in reaching consensus on issues of disagreement.

Ryanair reiterated that it believed the pilots’ industrial action was “unnecessary” in a July 17 statement, as “it had made written proposals on seniority and offered to set up a working group to discuss the issues the pilots are concerned about”. 

Ryanair only began recognising unions in December 2017 after a flight cancellations crisis forced it into a “U-turn on its previous stance of dealing only with employee representative councils,” ATW reported. 

Full report here


After what many in the industry view as quite a deal for Airbus, global aviation giant Airbus recently showed off its rebranded Bombardier C Series planes near its headquarters at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport.

The Airbus A220 is firmly aimed at the 100-150 passenger market with Associated Press reporting, that while the French company now has a controlling 50.1 per cent stake in Canada’s Bombardier C Series, no money has changed hands. 

This is “in recognition of the fact that the unit would likely see sales increase by being part of the Airbus group”. 

More at https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/news/105391815/airbus-unveils-a220-plane-rebranded-bombardier-model


Two stories of planes reported to be ‘plummeting’ towards the ground were recently discussed in the global media, with new technology blamed in one terrifying incident while another led to ear damage.  

Reuters reported that a co-pilot smoking an e-cigarette caused an Air China 737 passenger plane to quickly lose altitude travelling from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland city of Dalian. 

Oxygen masks dropped onto passengers as the plane made an emergency descent to 3048m before the pilot managed to return it to the correct altitude. 

In the preliminary investigation released to media by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), smoke from an e-cigarette “…diffused into the passenger cabin and relevant air conditioning components were wrongly shut off, without notifying the captain, which resulted in insufficient oxygen".

UPDATE: The CAAC has announced it is to cut down the carrier's 737 flights amount to 5400 hours a month, and fine the airline 50,000 yuan ($NZ10,964), China Central Television (CCTV).  As well as the pilots, the licenses of other staff involved in the emergency incident that was linked to a co-pilot smoking in the cockpit have also been suspended.  It also ordered Air China to undertake a three-month safety review.  Radio New Zealand reported that BOCOM International analyst Geoffrey Cheng said the ‘safety crackdown’ would likely have an impact on Air China's flight schedules, especially as it enters peak travel season, “but could also prompt the airline to cut poorly performing routes”.

Full story at   https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/travel/2018/07/air-china-plane-plunged-dramatically-due-to-e-cigarette-use-regulator.html

Newshub also reported an incident on a Ryanair flight between Ireland and Croatia when 33 passengers were hospitalised with bleeding from their ears when the plane became depressurised. 

After leaving Dublin airport, the flight required an emergency landing in Frankfurt.  According to reports, the cabin began losing pressure, causing the temperature to drop and oxygen masks to fall from the ceiling.

Newshub described the passengers as enduring “a terrifying free-fall as the plane rapidly descended from its cruising altitude”. 

More at https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/travel/2018/07/passengers-ears-bleed-as-depressurised-plane-plummets.html

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