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The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter.

New Zealand News

Crash pilot already faces aviation charge

Wellington media and photographers were quick on the scene last month when a pilot managed to escape from a helicopter crash in the water near Porirua. The next day he was in court facing a charge relating to a previous aviation incident.

Rick Lucas escaped uninjured when his machine crashed near the Pauatahanui Inlet while he was carrying power poles.

Mr Lucas, when interviewed by Radio New Zealand, said it was a frightening experience and he was extremely concerned when the helicopter started vibrating and plunged into the inlet.

He was submerged in the water but managed to free himself to climb on top of the helicopter to wave for help.

The charge Mr Lucas is facing in Wellington District Court relates to a breach of the Civil Aviation Act but, apparently, the court file has no details of the incident that led to the charge. 

Rick Lucas was well known locally as the owner of high-profile helicopter company Helipro, which went into receivership several years ago. 

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Spreading the message about drone safety and airspace use

As NZALPA has expressed in previous member and media communications, drone use is on the rise and so too are concerns about their unauthorised use. 

The North Harbour News last month reported that the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) team at Base Auckland in Whenuapai is trying to raise awareness of safety when flying drones. 

Drone users need to check any restrictions on air space use before flying and seek the relevant permissions. 

RNZAF Base Auckland safety officer Don Richardson said it was a concern to see unauthorised drones in and around the Whenuapai airspace and circuit.

"If they're unnotified, then we have no way of advising our air crew and helping and assisting safe use of that air space," he said.

"It's all about coordination and safety."

Richardson said that if drone operators did not communicate with other airspace users, they would not know what risks they faced in operating their aircraft, nor would other users know what space they required.

Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA) spokeswoman Philippa Lagan said unauthorised drone use was becoming an "increasing issue" due to the rising uptake of drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) throughout the country. 

Drone users flying in controlled airspace need to receive clearance from Air Traffic Control. 

Flying in special use airspace, such as military operating areas, requires permission from the relevant organisation. 

NZALPA’s position on the issue is clear: “Pilots and air traffic controllers have the most to gain from technological aviation advances and we don’t want to put a chilling effect on exciting developments,” said NZALPA President Tim Robinson.

“But as our experience and specialised training has always shown us, we have to get the balance between innovation advancement and safety right.

“NZALPA strongly supports the registration and regulation of drone use in New Zealand as it would assist in addressing the increasing flight safety risks we, as pilots, air traffic controllers and members of the travelling public are presented with as more drones are released into New Zealand’s airspace.

“Should a drone come into contact with an aircraft then the consequences could be severe for those in the air and on the ground. Even a close encounter or near-miss has the potential to lead to a serious accident.”

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Airline numbers soar but aviation boom shows signs of levelling off, says Auckland airport

Auckland Airport believes there is room for a third more growth in the buoyant North American market but its boss says there are signs the aviation boom is levelling off, the New Zealand Herald reported recently.

Chief executive Adrian Littlewood said there had been 11 new carriers operating to Auckland in the last 18 months taking the number of airlines to 28.

"While it has been an extraordinary period it's unlikely we're going to see that kind of growth continue,'' he said following Auckland Airport's international travel summit.

"From an industry point of view the focus will be about making that significant growth stick - how we make those routes sustainable and durable in the long term and that's about thinking about the yield on those flights."

Scott Tasker, the airport's general manager aeronautical commercial, also told the New Zealand Herald that there was high unmet demand for travel to New Zealand from the United States and Canada.

This is despite the 25 per cent growth in North American visitors since July 2016; the arrival of United Airlines and American Airlines; and the introduction of Air New Zealand's direct route to Houston.

Speaking at the summit, Tasker said the growth was a result of increased competition, greater airline capacity, lower airfares and better connectivity.

Special return fares continue to dip below $800 for direct flights between New Zealand and the US.

Last year Air New Zealand boosted services to the US mainland, and both United Airlines and American Airlines started direct flights between the two countries.

Data collected during New Zealand's summer season shows that the demand for travel between North America and New Zealand is running at high levels. US visitor numbers to New Zealand have grown by 26 per cent, or 55,280 arrivals from July 2016 to March, and outward travel to the US by New Zealanders has risen by 21 per cent or 26,200 departures.

Auckland Airport's modelling, however, shows that the US and Canada continue to be underserved markets with around 33 per cent unmet demand.

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New Zealand considers more security checks for Middle East flights

The New Zealand Herald reported that New Zealand is considering additional security checks on flights from Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East, its transport minister said yesterday.

The new rules would follow similar measures introduced last month by the United States, Britain and Australia.

New Zealand's civil aviation authority "is assessing the evidence to determine what is appropriate," transport minister Simon Bridges told Reuters in an interview in Dubai.

Additional security measures would affect passengers flying from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and Doha, Qatar, where carriers Emirates and Qatar Airways, respectively, fly direct to New Zealand.

Minister Bridges said a decision to add new checks would be made independent of the government by the aviation authority.

He declined to say when a decision could be made. He did not say what measures were being considered.

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