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.

New Zealand aviation news

Refused entry to Chinese airspace

An Air New Zealand Dreamliner bound for Shanghai last month was forced to turn back to Auckland four and a half hours into its flight, after Chinese authorities indicated the aircraft did not have the necessary approval to enter their airspace.

The airline regularly flies Dreamliners from Auckland to Shanghai, but the aircraft involved in this incident was a recent addition to the airline’s fleet, and the airline had not received authority for it to land in Shanghai. 

Air New Zealand has accepted responsibility for the blunder. 

The total flight time for the aircraft on the aborted journey was just over 10 hours. The 270 passengers on board were accommodated on a rescheduled flight a day after their original departure. 

 Read more HERE


Inflight medical emergencies

Inflight medical emergencies are under the spotlight following the recent death of a child passenger on a flight from Auckland to Samoa and other similar incidents. 

A recent Hawaiian Airlines flight from Honolulu to New York was diverted to San Francisco after a flight attendant died of an apparent heart attack. 

Most airlines have access to specialist medical advice on the ground – from within their own company resources as well as on-call medical services. Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia both use MedLink, a US-based service that offers medical advice to more than 100 airlines in 140 languages with a database of emergency medical response teams at more than 5000 airports. 

When a medical emergency occurs on board the flight crew will ask for the assistance of crew and from any medically trained passengers before seeking MedLink assistance. If the crew decide they need to divert the aircraft, MedLink can advise on the most appropriate airport and organise local emergency services to meet the aircraft.

NZALPA’s Tim Robinson was interviewed for a recent Stuff article on inflight medical emergencies. He said that while the pilot makes the final decision, they would need good reason to stray from the advice given by MedLink. 

Read more HERE and HERE

Bird strike hotspots 

Napier and Whenuapai aerodromes continue to have the highest risk for on-aerodrome bird strikes, according to the latest Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) statistics. 

These are the only two aerodromes falling into the category of high risk and trending upward. 

The bird strike rate at Napier (using CAA stats for on-aerodrome 12-month moving average strike rate per 10,000 aircraft movements) is around twice as high as it is at Whenuapai. 

The CAA report says the authority determines what actions are required based on the risk and trend categories for each aerodrome. 

Read more HERE


Warbirds collision report 

A collision between a Yak-3M vintage aircraft and a cherry picker at last year’s Warbirds over Wanaka (WOW) occurred after the cherry picker was put in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) safety investigation brief reports that the opening sequence of the event was changed at late notice after United States Air Force aircraft were delayed by weather. Two civilian operated Yak-3M were substituted for the American military aircraft. 

The WOW event had permission to use the sealed runway, the grass runway and another grass area between those two runways. The military craft had planned to use just the sealed runway. 

Two cherry pickers, scheduled to be put on the grass area at the edge of the sealed runway after the opening sequence were placed there before the opening sequence. This was noted before the morning briefing, and it was agreed they would be moved – but this did not happen. Pilots at the morning briefing were told that they could land on both grassed areas. 

The pilot of the first Yak landed on the sealed runway and the pilot of the second Yak landed on the grass area between the sealed and grass runways – colliding with a cherry picker in the process. 

The Yak aircraft have visibility limitations, particularly when landing, and the CAA report notes the pilot of the Yak which collided with the cherry picker said he never saw the cherry pickers.

A radio call from the pilot of the second Yak, saying he would land on the grass, was not heard in the tower (so the pilot was not warned about the cherry pickers) and the military display director on duty at the time was expecting the Yak to land on the sealed runway. The military display director also missed the discussions about the availability of the grass area between the runways at the morning briefing. 

CAA is now working with WOW on ways to further develop and improve the effectiveness of risk mitigation strategies for the event.

“Pilots have been reminded that the nature of air show operations includes unusual hazards,” the investigation brief says. “The approvals issued by an FDD (flying display director) or MDD (military display director) may not mitigate all risks arising from those hazards. As such, a heightened level of vigilance by the pilot is required at all times when operating at air shows. Within the limits imposed by visibility and operational requirements, runways should be actively scanned for unexpected obstacles prior to landing.” 

There were earlier news reports in January that the owner and pilot of the aircraft planned to sue WOW for damages to his aircraft – with the most recent repair quote being more than $600,000. The aircraft is valued at more than $1 million.

Read more HERE and HERE.


Air New Zealand flags weaker earnings 

Air New Zealand has cut its pre-tax earnings guidance to a range of $340 million to $400 million for the June year due to slower-than-expected revenue growth. 

The previously announced guidance was for underlying earnings before tax of $425m to $525m, which excluded an estimated $30m to $40m impact of schedule changes prompted by the global Rolls-Royce engine issues.

In an email to staff, Chief Executive Christopher Luxon said the revised guidance reflected updated revenue forecasts based on recent forward booking trends but that "difficult decisions" lay ahead. Luxon did not specifically mention job cuts.

He said he would lead a small team that would review the network, fleet and cost base and more information was to be revealed at the company's interim result announcement on 28 February. 

"It is clear that some tough decisions are required over the coming months and I am committed to openly sharing with all Air New Zealanders the steps that we will take to restore the total trust of investors in our airline," Luxon said.

In August last year, Air New Zealand reported a net profit of $390 million, up two per cent from the previous year.

Read more HERE



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