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.

Medical and Welfare Report – Medical and Welfare Director, Dave Church

Medical and Welfare Director, Dave Church

Nothing has been more of a baptism of fire than being appointed Medical and Welfare Director in the middle
of a global pandemic. It has certainly been a steep learning curve, but I would like to thank my predecessor, Andy Pender, who has been a great sounding board for me as I get used to dealing with the numerous issues and challenges this role entails. I would also like to thank the President and General Manager, Dawn Handforth, for their guidance.

I don’t want to dwell on the pandemic, as I know we are all fully aware of how it is dramatically affecting all our lives and livelihoods. One of the huge consequences of this is the effect on everyone’s mental wellbeing, and I have spent a considerable amount of my time highlighting this to all the relevant government agencies including CAA, and its impact on safety. As resilient as we may think we all are, no one is bulletproof and I strongly encourage all NZALPA members to use the excellent support facilities we have through PAN and HIMS, or just give me a call if you feel you need to discuss something that is concerning you. For all the pilots that have been made redundant or furloughed, I would like to remind you that we are available to support you in any way possible.

At the time of writing this article the issue of mandatory vaccination is unfolding. This is obviously a very polarising subject and is yet to be tested in the courts. With vaccination being one of the few ways we can navigate out of this crisis I hope we can find a position in society that allows for everyone to continue their lives as we were before the pandemic started, with no animosity or prejudice as to how we got there.

Along with the pandemic there are other major issues that I would like to address in the next 18 months of my term. The new CAA Director has been very accommodating in giving us time to discuss relevant issues in the Air Transport area with his team. One of the issues I have highlighted is that we would like to see a full collaborative review of the entire medical certification process end to end – from when a young PPL does his first medical right through to the appeal process when a certificate has been denied. This is a huge undertaking and one which is envisaged will
have industry-wide input. We are hopeful that the outcomes will improve safety through allowing
the medical reporting process to be more transparent and honest, rather than the current culture of keeping
as quiet as possible for fear of consequences, and bring the aviation medical process into line with modern international medicine.

I have also been working with Dawn and John Hall (NZALPA solicitor) as we prepare submissions on medical standards, as part of our overall submission to the Civil Aviation Bill.

Dawn has outlined some of our concerns in this area, in her article.

Recently I have dealt with a number of members who have been the victims of anonymous reporting. It seems in this current day and age of everyone being a google aviation expert, that some people take it upon themselves to regulate aviation through anonymous reporting. Unless handled correctly, this can lead to a very stressful time for the licence holder whilst the investigation is undertaken. In most cases the allegations are totally unfounded and/ or motivated by dubious intentions. However, this does not help the short- term impact this may have caused the licence holder. I am working with CAA to move away from anonymous reporting to a confidential reporting system that forces the accuser to put a name to their allegations, thus allowing for a far more robust investigation process.

The recent outcome of the Lindsay vs CAA court of appeal decision has highlighted this issue and, as was revealed in the Judge’s findings, if not handled correctly such reporting can lead to serious consequences for
the licence holder. I am hopeful that NZALPA can work collaboratively with CAA to achieve a robust process to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

On a sad note, we recently saw the sudden passing of our ATC member, Alan Fonua. Our thoughts and prayers go to his wife Sela (also an NZALPA member) and their five young children. I was extremely proud of
the way NZALPA rallied to support her and raise funds to help Sela get through these tough times.

We also saw the sad passing of Honorary Life member, Kevin Henderson – someone who has done an incredible amount of work for NZALPA during his tenure. Once again, our thoughts go out to Kath and his family.

I look forward to the rest of my term as Medical and Welfare Director. We are at the beginning of the end of this current pandemic and the start of the rebuilding of the industry.

Have a safe and restful Christmas

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