From the President
This month there will be more from me as a lot has been going on that you need to know about.
Starting with an Aviation Community Medical Liaison Group (ACMLG) meeting which was attended by myself and Dr Steve Brown your exec member. We discuss many issues at these meetings with the medical team including costs, electronic certification scheme, fatigue risk management and they are a no holds barred good meeting with those that make the decisions. The full minutes are available on the CAA website. . www.caa.govt.nz/medical/acmlg/acmlg.html.
Of particular interest this time is the treatment that a pilot gets when he/she is caught DIC of a vehicle by the traffic police. This must be declared on your medical application form and when it is, a red flag is raised in the medical department. One member who had his first ever DIC in 58 years was required to undergo expensive testing along with a visit to an addiction specialist. The testing goes on until the dept. is satisfied that you do not have an underlying problem. So in this case a $250 Court fine and 6 months disqualification was cheap compared to the testing regime that had to be followed and still goes on 12 months or more later. Steve Brown is writing an article in the next magazine so I don’t want to get too long winded here but just be aware that the consequences are huge.
At our executive meeting it was decided to invest some of our funds in the NZ Aviation Federation. This is to enable them to buy further shares in Aspeq Ltd which is the company that owns ASL and does all the aviation exams in NZ. Aspeq Ltd was set up by the NZAF and Aviation NZ (AvNZ) over 20 years ago and is a well-established and respected provider of exams and flight testing. This transaction has enabled NZAF to take a controlling interest in the company with the intention of building up a greater fund in NZAF for lobbying Govt. and CAA on issues that concern general aviation. There are and will be specific benefits for AOPA and the other NZAF groups that have also provided funds. Our interest rate is substantially more than we get in the Bank and we are going to get a greater dividend to NZAF from the company to allow us to build up reserves and become a credible lobby group. A little more on that later.
We also discussed a Ministry of Transport (MoT) initiative called “Clear Heads”. http://www.transport.govt.nz/ourwork/clear-heads which is a proposal to enable testing for drug and alcohol levels in pilots after an accident. It is for aviation and marine where there are severe gaps in the legislation at the moment. We were asked to provide a submission which was a selection of options available to us ranging from status quo to strict control. We have taken a moderate approach by agreeing with a zero tolerance for the pilot and testing after an accident or if the pilot is clearly impaired. This submission was sent in by NZAF with support from all the organisations (AOPA included) of NZAF. It is a responsible approach and recognises the recommendations that have been handed down by coroners in recent times. It was not an option to do nothing. Australia has stricter regulations with random testing of anyone in an aviation environment. We have to develop and instil a culture of responsibility in our members old and new on this issue.
I attended an Intelligent Transport System (ITS) plan update seminar held by MoT to see where they are on a wide range of things covering the Road, Rail, Aviation and Maritime sectors. AOPA has been instrumental in raising the awareness of Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) with the Ministry. It could be said that aviation has the most to gain in safety from SBAS but every other sector gets the benefit as well. In fact it has been calculated that aviation only uses about 10% of the signal and everyone from hikers to precision agriculture to pizza delivery get the same benefits absolutely free of charge. Therefore we don’t want aviation to pay the bill and are promoting it as National Infrastructure. These seminars are also a great opportunity to mix with the people who are making the decisions that affect us in the GA VFR world. The contacts and kudos we receive is immeasurable. The Minister, Hon Simon Bridges, is going to Silicon Valley this month to entice autonomous vehicle testing to New Zealand. Groups like Google and their driverless car are on the list. It appears that we have the flexibility in our laws to facilitate this testing. It also requires us to be aware that all the GPS technology used has been developed in an SBAS environment so we will have to provide that level of service which is good for the aviation sector.
Then Australian AOPA invited me to address a safety seminar and talk on GA in NZ. I must admit to having a second reason for attending which was to meet the new Director of CASA, Mark Skidmore who was also presenting. He is only 6 months into the job but is making some good impressions. My talk hinged on greater cooperation between The AOPA’s but also between CASA and CAA particularly in the medical field. I have raised the idea of using International AOPA to try and establish a revised PPL medical that would be acceptable to ICAO. A big goal but one that may help us all in getting a PPL with a drivers licence medical as a reality and furthermore acceptable to all ICAO states. Many of you will have read about the moves in USA and UK so it should only be a matter of pulling together to achieve something of value to all countries. It’s worth trying. Here is a link to the presentation http://www.aopa.co.nz/page.php?id=164
One of the main points in my presentation was that when I am in Australia people say “why don’t we just follow the Kiwis” then when I am in New Zealand they say “Why don’t we follow the Aussies” The fact is we are separate but we can certainly work closer together on many issues. I did offer to send our medical department over there but that was not accepted. Their application fee is $75.00 compared to our $313.00.
AOPA Aus. has 2500 members and is growing. I spend a lot of time working with them on the SBAS project which will only succeed if it is a joint AU/NZ project. The information I get on PBN and ADSB is invaluable as they are slightly ahead of us in the implementation of these systems. We can learn from their mistakes.
The Aviation Federation had its two monthly meeting on the 25th June and much time was devoted to finalising the Aspeq share purchase. It was a unanimous vote for NZAF to take its shareholding to 70% by buying the shares offered by AvNZ. Effectively we have retained the same shareholders but changed the ratio. This is going to strengthen NZAF and we are already supporting issues that are raised by individual members to help put some weight behind submissions to CAA. I have great confidence that NZAF are stepping up to become a recognisable force in lobbying as it has over 10,000 individuals as members of the 12 organisations that belong.
Lastly I have just been at the AvNZ conference in Queenstown. This is the only real aviation convention in NZ and attracted almost 600 participants with 400 going to the gala awards dinner. The theme of the conference was ANZAC cooperation and two keynote speakers were Mark Skidmore from CASA and Graeme Harris from CAA. Both accept the deficiencies in our respective systems and in particular part 61. There is a new willingness to cooperate and certainly these two leaders of our regulators are very approachable and understanding of our problems.
For me it was a chance to meet those in the industry and to talk about our issues with MoT and Airways as well as CAA. I always wonder if I can justify the attendance but afterwards realise how important it is for AOPA to be seen to be participating.
I apologise for the length of this but it really is a snapshot of “AOPA working for you”.
Safe (and sober) flying