The Supreme Court has granted leave for Wellington International Airport (WIAL) to appeal on the question of whether the Court of Appeal was correct to allow NZALPA’s appeal to go ahead.
Meanwhile, NZALPA understands that WIAL has already been provided with at least one quote for an alternative to an increased Runway End Safety Area (RESA) for its proposed runway extension.
The alternative is known as an Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS). NZALPA had also advocated for one of these internationally recognised safety systems – a crushable cellular material installed on an existing RESA, to decelerate an aircraft in an emergency. NZALPA has been promoting RESA compliance since the 1990s.
In a media statement to Fairfax/Dominion Post, NZALPA General Manager Dawn Handforth said: “Despite knowing the relatively low-cost but high-safety attributes of an EMAS, the WIAL continue to pursue its appeal to the Supreme Court and spend even more ratepayers’ money.”
It is not known if multinational and Wellington Airport majority shareholder Infratil is contributing to WIAL’s legal costs or the costs of the proposed runway extension.
In an email to NZALPA staff and in conversations during the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) Conference in Montreal, it was confirmed by Swedish-headquartered EMAS specialists Runway Safe that they had provided to Wellington Airport “a preliminary performance report and cost estimate in the last month,” according to Marc Klein, CEO of Runway Safe’s US operations.
EMAS systems are used globally and have already been successful in stopping aircraft and saving lives in incidents at New York’s John F. Kennedy and Chicago’s O’Hare International Airports, among others.
In March, the NZALPA Board announced it would fund and fight to uphold the Court of Appeal decision that the Director of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) must reconsider his decision on safety area requirements for an extended Wellington Airport runway.
The Court of Appeal confirmed NZALPA’s understanding that current New Zealand law requires a 240 metre RESA where one is practicable, and that EMAS must be considered by the Director when making a decision.
“The effect of the decision is that all the matters that were argued in the Court of Appeal will be argued again in the Supreme Court,” Handforth said.
"This fight, on behalf of the safety of our members, airport workers, and the wider travelling public, will continue.”
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