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.

Helicopter pilots – time to have a voice


Tourism, agriculture and forestry remain leading industries in New Zealand.

Just recently, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment reported that at the year ending March 2016, tourism’s economic expenditure growth was 12.2 percent, up to $34.7 billion, of which $12.9 billion directly contributes to New Zealand’s total GDP.

When we look at these leading industries, it’s important to note the role of helicopter pilots and their contribution to New Zealand’s economy.

Alongside this contribution, it’s been useful for us to consider risk. A 2015 risk profile report produced by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) identified that, between 2006 and 2014, there have been 11 fatal and 91 non-fatal helicopter incidents in New Zealand.

As New Zealand has one of the highest numbers of helicopter ownership per capita in the world, and pilots are performing jobs important to the function and economic contribution of our leading industries, it’s even more essential that their health, wellbeing and best interests are protected.   

Many of New Zealand’s helicopter operations are smaller or owner-operated organisations, and pilots can be under enormous pressure to perform under less-than-ideal conditions with safety of the pilots often put at risk. While to be put in harm’s way is unintentional, it’s not acceptable – particularly since the recent clarification of workplace health and safety legislation and under CAA regulations.   

It can also be precarious employment, but for helicopter pilots who are part of NZALPA there is protection and wrap-around services by an organisation that has huge experience supporting aviation professionals, particularly in the areas of employment agreements and disputes, insurance, health and welfare guidance, and safety.

In the coming months, we will introduce some of New Zealand’s helicopter pilots and find out about the challenges and rewards of an increasingly important side of general aviation, which continues to have its own unique challenges and opportunities.

It’s part of our aim to empower pilots at all stages of their career and throughout the sector to feel supported in their work and have a say on the state of the industry and the progression of their careers.

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