Spring has sprung, certainly there are longer days but here in Canterbury we have had Norwesters each day I have been keen to fly. Doable but does take some of the fun out of it.
We had a productive meeting at the NZ Aviation Federation last month. CAA Acting Chief Exec and Director Shelley Turner and Dean Winter, Director Chief of Safety visited us and spoke. The meeting was productive and indicated their intention to enter dialogue and to move forward in a cooperative manner. We were pleased to see that the ‘Senior Management Team’ had been briefed on the Medical Standards Review and were planning to move it forward; taking advantage of the delayed election as an opportunity. We won’t hold our breath. I am meeting Shelley Turner with Richard Small (Flying NZ) and John Lanham (Air shows) next week. We will hopefully be able to report on progress.
We are a concerned to have an increased number of members who have fallen short of operating within the regulations. They have been fined, prosecuted or prosecutions are underway. We all know the rules and when flouting them we can expect to be held accountable. One issue which I think many of us are a bit tardy on is the Biannual Flight Review (BFR) – our licence is current for two years from the date, not two years and a month or two…… There have been prosecutions around this rule. What I was reminded of recently is that you can take your BFR up to 60 days before it runs out and the date is moved to the actual date of expiry. This is a good deal. Let’s keep our side of the licence rules and then expect the Regulator to keep theirs.
There has been flurry of activity around Airways plans to close a whole lot of towers. I am sure they knew that they could not just close them….. they need to go through ‘Safety Review – Aeronautical Studies’ in each case. It is then not just Airways unilateral decision to withdraw the service; we need CAA and the airfield operators to follow processes. Ian Andrews attended a productive meeting with the commercial operators, CAA, Airways and GA looking at this issue. There are solutions, Timaru, Whakatane and many other airfields operate without towers. But there will need to be changes to airspace with MBZ’s and ‘Transponder Mandatory’ areas etc. All this will take time. Of course, Transponder Mandatory areas will become ADSB Mandatory on 31st December next year.
On another note our new VNC Chartbook is finalised and about to go to press. It is much improved and has all the updated airspace etc. Watch out for an email indicating our online purchasing is operating. We have also managed to hold the price and member discount.
There is a lot of work also going into the threatened closure of Paraparaumu Airfield this is going to be complex issue with a private non-aviation company owning the land. Paraparaumu is a key safety 'alternate' airfield for many of our members crossing the Strait, it is very hard to put a monetary value on this benefit.
I have enjoyed not focussing on Covid for this newsletter; partly because I really am struggling to envisage what the future will look like. My thoughts at this stage is that it is a 'long game' and the vaccine option is not looking as promising as it was. ‘Charlie Drapers Flyaway’ is days away and the Covid lockdown has played havoc with our planning, if you were wanting to come but have been put on the waiting list then please be patient. The Covid status of our Auckland membership will be reviewed by Government next week and this will impact on attendance. It would be very easy just to cancel these activities but we have decided to proceed with appropriate precautions. If you are not registered please do not embarrass us by just turning up; we will be asking you to leave.
On a lighter note Geoff Van Asch will soon be emailing the members who showed interest in our AOPA NZ wine, I missed a tasting as our last ‘Exec’ meeting was changed to a 'zoom' at last minute but I am assured it will be good value. Geoff is known to do good deals…..
We look forward to seeing many of you at Charlies and on strips around the contry as the spring weather gets us out and about.