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

CAA accepts NZALPA support offer 

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has accepted an offer of support from NZALPA as the agency works through problems recently highlighted in the news media.

Radio New Zealand reports that concerns include whistleblower allegations of a toxic work culture, high staff turnover and people being too scared to speak out against the authority. It quotes NZALPA President Andrew Ridling saying that at a meeting with CAA and the Minister of Transport Phil Twyford, the two organisations agreed to work together to fix problems at the CAA. 

The broadcaster reports that Minister Twyford appreciates the pilots’ “constructive offer to work together with the CAA on some of the big challenges facing the industry. It’s great they are willing to bring that expertise to the table.” 

CAA director Graeme Harris said the meeting was constructive. “We agreed to work together more in the future with a focus on constructive collaboration to enhance aviation sector safety performance. Our joint efforts will initially be focused on improving safety performance in the non-passenger helicopter sector, where improvement is required.” 

Read more HERE.


Extreme action on drones 

Stuff reports that the proposed Civil Aviation law change could make it legal to shoot down drones in special circumstances. 

The Civil Aviation Bill exposure draft has provision for drones to be detained, seized and destroyed in extreme situations – such as when people or property are endangered.

Pilots and airports complain that current rules are lax as they treat drones equally to planes carrying people, Stuff says, making them almost impossible to bring down even when they pose a safety risk. 

Advice to Transport Minister Phil Twyford on the changes warns the system must be designed carefully so it doesn't encourage "reckless or disproportionate" behaviour. 

Officials have suggested several methods to down drones, ranging from nets to sophisticated radio frequency jamming or interception. Overseas, trained falcons have also been used, although Stuff says that was not one of the Transport Ministry's recommendations. 

Twyford says drones present an economic opportunity, but that risks need to be managed. 

The Government hasn't yet decided who will be given the right to bring down the drones. A Ministry of Transport official told Stuff the powers could be given to trained Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) employees or the police. 

The Government hopes to introduce a final bill in the next year and have it passed before the 2020 election. 

There have been multiple drone incidents at New Zealand airports, including at Air Force bases. 

A study commissioned by the CAA estimated there were 280,000 New Zealand resident drone users, with another 200,000 people from overseas using drones here each year. 

Read more HERE.


Laser use concerns Ministry of Health 

The Ministry of Health is disappointed with increases in reported laser pointer attacks, according to Stuff

It refers to a newly-published Ministry report which says advertising of high powered laser pointers on online auction sites has crept up again, after initially dropping when laser laws were tightened five years ago. 

The Ministry report says the number of TradeMe listings has risen each year since 2015, but the online auction site was quick to take down listings for prohibited lasers. 

Stuff reports the Ministry saying its surveillance activity will focus on online sales and (limited) retailer visits.

The increase in reported laser attacks is consistent with what is occurring overseas. 

Customs data cited in the Ministry report showed many intercepted lasers were from travellers returning from Southeast Asia, where high-power devices were "unregulated and widely available". 

Read more HERE or HERE.


Laser eye damage warning 

New Zealand eye specialists are warning about the dangers of laser pointers, which can cause eye injuries so severe that they might require retinal surgery or cause long-term loss of vision – potentially limiting ability to drive, work or function on a daily basis. 

Stuff reports Dr Will Cunningham of the Eye Institute in Auckland saying that laser pointer injuries are uncommon but could start to increase, especially for children, with easier access to laser pointers and a lack of education around their use. 

A laser pointer injury might prevent a child from becoming a pilot, operating heavy machinery or even driving a normal car in future. 

Stuff reports that laser pointer misuse “has infuriated airline pilots and also fired up political debate”. National member of Parliament Hamish Walker has introduced a bill proposing tougher laser legislation. Labour says it will not back the bill and instead favours identification and apprehension of people misusing laser pointers.

NZALPA has called for a total ban on high-powered, portable, handheld, battery-powered lasers. 

Read more HERE.


Laser operators held to account

A man has been charged following a laser strike on the Otago Rescue Helicopter in May. 

A TVNZ report says the man was charged with endangering transport, an offence carrying a maximum penalty of 14 years’ imprisonment. 

There were no patients on board the helicopter at the time and the crew were reported to be angry, but not injured. 

In another laser strike incident, a man was sentenced in July to six months community detention, 200 hours community work and 12 months supervision for pointing a laser into the eyes of pilots flying a Police eagle helicopter last year, subjecting the crew to glare and flash blindness. 

Nearly three years ago a Christchurch man was sentenced to 10 weeks in prison for shining a laser at a Virgin Airlines aircraft carrying 121 passengers. 

Read more HERE and HERE.


NZALPA member features in online news site video

NZALPA pilot member Angela Swann-Cronin features in a video on the New Zealand Herald website. 

Twenty years ago she was the first Maori woman to become a pilot in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and remains the only Maori woman to have become an RNZAF pilot. She is now a regional pilot for Air New Zealand.

The news site says that the New Zealand Defence Force wants to increase the number of serving women and under-represented groups such as Maori. 

Read more and view the video HERE.


Jetstar drops Christchurch-Sydney route 

Jetstar is quitting its five times a week flights on the Christchurch-Sydney route from the middle of October. 

“Challenging commercial performance” is blamed for the change, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald

Parent company Qantas will continue to fly Christchurch to Sydney seven times a week.

Jetstar will still have more than 100 trans-Tasman flights each week across nine different routes. In 2005 Christchurch to Sydney became one of the first New Zealand routes flown by Jetstar.

Read more HERE.



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