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NOT ENOUGH BEING DONE TO PREVENT POTENTIAL AIR DISASTERS - AVIATION PROFESSIONALS TELL SELECT COMMITTEE

New Zealand risks a potential aviation disaster, unless more is done to address fatigue management in pilots, air traffic controllers and other aviation workers, the biggest union representing pilots and every New Zealand air traffic controller told the Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee today.

 NZALPA - New Zealand Air Line Pilots' AssociationStatement from the New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association

 

Thursday, 17 February 2022                                                                                                       

 

 

“NOT ENOUGH BEING DONE TO PREVENT POTENTIAL AIR DISASTERS”   

- AVIATION PROFESSIONALS TELL SELECT COMMITTEE

 

New Zealand risks a potential aviation disaster, unless more is done to address fatigue management in pilots, air traffic controllers and other aviation workers, the biggest union representing pilots and every New Zealand air traffic controller told the Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee today.

The select committee is hearing submissions on the Civil Aviation Bill, which will replace the Civil Aviation Act 1990 and the Airport Authorities Act 1966.    

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA), which represents more than 2,600 New Zealand pilots, all air traffic controllers and the majority of flight service operators, told the select committee that there are no provisions protecting against air traffic controller and cabin crew fatigue, and that current pilot fatigue provisions don’t meet international civil aviation standards which New Zealand is required to comply with.

“Fatigue can be as dangerous as drug and alcohol misuse and can lead to errors with potentially fatal consequences.  It has been linked to airline disasters internationally,” says NZALPA President Captain Andrew Ridling.   

“NZALPA and Massey University drafted regulations on fatigue management, but the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) shelved this work nearly two years ago, citing a lack of resources. This cannot be acceptable, particularly as many New Zealanders prepare to take to the skies again as post-Covid pandemic borders begin to open.

“With this Bill we have a once in a generation opportunity to make our skies safer. As aviation professionals, we simply can’t stand by while nothing is done.  We must have regulations addressing fatigue management or we risk errors – with potentially fatal consequences.”

NZALPA is also advocating for a positive safety culture, where aviation workers can feel comfortable sharing operational information and learning from each other, without fear of prejudice or punishment.

“We need a culture where we have sufficient trust in the system that we are willing to report our own errors.  It is well recognised that a positive safety culture prevents systemic failures across the aviation system,” Captain Ridling says.

In its current form, the Bill fails to recognise International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) principles which provide a legal test for when safety data should be protected or disclosed.

NZALPA also called for establishment of an independent Civil Aviation Appeals Authority, separate from the CAA and other government agencies. 

“Regulatory and safety agencies hold tremendous power and it’s important that there is a channel for independent review of their decisions.  We believe there are too many conflicts of interest in the CAA’s role currently and an independent appeals authority would be a major step towards ensuring people are confident we have a just culture and that they will receive a fair hearing,” says Captain Ridling.

Media contact:  Linda Harrison Ph 027 444 0996

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