NZALPA has always been clear in its support for a strong and effective regulator in New Zealand.
Like our association colleagues around the world, we believe strong regulation and its consistent application is essential to achieving safe and secure skies.
In the United States for example, nearly every day the media runs a story about a decision, or comment from, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), demonstrating not only its high profile but that its important role is understood and highly prioritised by both central government and the travelling public.
Here at home our Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) deserves to have a similar profile, and with that, a high level of public scrutiny so that it can and does perform its essential role. In addition to its major responsibilities around safety, with the speed of technological developments and the essential part air transport plays in New Zealand’s economy, the CAA must also have both the resources and skills to succeed and meet expectations.
Coupled with this, CAA requires the support and respect of the participants in the aviation sector.
That is why last year the Minister of Transport warmly welcomed NZALPA’s offer to create a closer and demonstrable collaborative relationship with the CAA, NZALPA’s resources and expertise can help meet where CAA have skills and resource shortfalls.
This would include the creation of a relationship charter setting out how NZALPA and the CAA would work together to improve New Zealand’s aviation safety and standards.
Our proposed draft charter continues to be under consideration by the CAA and we were concerned it had appeared to stall in legal process. However, under the newly appointed CAA Chair, Janice Fredric, and a refreshed CAA Board, the President and I were invited to meet at their Wellington head office and participate in a working lunch, beginning an improved dialogue. The Director of Civil Aviation and several of his new general managers covering aviation safety, regulation and engagement issues were also in attendance.
It was significant that for the first time, the CAA Board had engaged in a clear bilateral meeting with New Zealand’s leading ‘voice of aviation’ and this boded well for the future.
At the bilateral, NZALPA took the opportunity to discuss how we would like the relationship with CAA to develop, including clear opportunities for collaboration. While we do not always have the same view on every issue, the CAA and NZALPA share the same main driver - aviation safety must be the highest priority, and NZALPA is in the unique position to assist the CAA make their resources go further in achieving this goal.
With regards to the proposed relationship charter between us, while there are still some legal concerns about what that would actually mean and commit both parties to, this of course does not mean we are prevented from working more closely with the CAA to achieve safety outcomes. We will continue to work through the issues, as per our promise made to the Minister and the Director of Civil Aviation.
The CAA is already aware of the need to build strong relationships with its stakeholders and customers, as highlighted in its 2019 – 2024 Statement of Intent. The inaugural February meeting would seem to indicate that the new CAA Board is willing to engage directly with industry and we hope that this level of engagement and enthusiasm continues well into the future.
Our people, all those who work and invest in New Zealand’s aviation sector, and the safety of the travelling public depends on it.
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