An update on the Government’s massive New Southern Sky project was provided by the Minister of Transport, Hon. Phil Twyford, at Aviation New Zealand’s Annual Conference in Nelson early last month.
This was the first public speech by the Minister since the aviation portfolio was returned to him in July, following a CAA investigation into his mobile phone use on an aircraft.
Citing aviation as accountable for around two per cent of the world’s total CO2 emissions and New Zealand’s own burgeoning industry, with 15 million departures leaving local airports in 2017, there would be a strong focus on the rules that will support a reduction in carbon emissions from aircraft.
New Southern Sky is New Zealand’s Airspace and Air Navigation Plan as approved by Cabinet in 2014. It aims to give a “clear direction” on incorporating new and emerging technologies into the aviation system “to ensure the safe, cohesive, efficient and collaborative management of New Zealand’s airspace and air navigation to 2023.”
As a modernisation plan, it aims to improve efficiency of air traffic movements, more accurate navigation, reduced reliance on ground based systems, and improved communications. Increased information availability will also enable more effective decision making. Together, these changes will mean lower operating costs and improved aviation safety.
As reported by Radio New Zealand, the Minister said the Civil Aviation Authority and Ministry of Transport were working on a plan to make sure the country's aviation industry was ready for what is coming.
"New Southern Sky will enable shorter journeys, improve safety and lower carbon emissions (through less fuel use),” the Minister said.
He also said that, over the next 20 years, the plan would bring $1 billion in economic benefits through fuel savings, lower aircraft operating costs - the programme itself is expected to provide direct benefits of $128 million over the same period and safer journeys for the travelling public.
"While some of the biggest and easiest gains are going to come in land transport, and the conversion of the vehicle fleet to electric, aviation of course is not going to be let off the hook in this regard,” the Minister said.
He was also reported as saying that global carbon offsetting regime Corsia, would eventually flow through to the New Zealand aviation sector, requiring it to take “solid steps” towards reducing aircraft emissions.
Referring to the recent trials in Christchurch of the Google-backed Zephyr Airworks ‘flying car’, the Minister said that it was due to New Zealand’s ‘regulations and flexibility’ that new technology trials such as these could take place here.
Radio New Zealand cited Airbus’ presence at this year’s Conference, stating that “hybrid electric-powered aircraft were no longer the stuff of science fiction.”
In an interview with Matthias Seifert of Airbus Defence and Space, RNZ said that the company's quad cruiser was already flying as a prototype to bigger things.
"Currently the medium-size version we have got, can be employed for maritime surveillance, and for other work where traditional manned aircraft is not suitable,” Seifert said.
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