Welcome to the General Aviation Advocacy Group of New Zealand

2017 July bulletin


The Jones affair deepens, with more questions – and answers that don’t add up

The Paul Mitchell Jones fake qualifications affair is widening to include questions about the credibility of other CAA officials.

The CAA has denied that Jones included an ATPL (H) and ATPL (A) in his original CV. Its spokesman, Mike Richards, has also issued a statement saying that Jones only inserted these qualifications in 2016 when he applied for another position in the organisation.

But Julian Lee, the Stuff reporter who first exposed Jones’s wrongdoing, says the original CV, containing the false credentials, was actually part of evidence submitted to a court in 2014.

And the GAA can reveal that the CAA was aware of Jones’s claimed ATPLs at least as early as August 2015. They are mentioned in an article in the CAA’s own safety-promotion magazine Vector, September/October 2015 edition, page 15.

The CAA has also claimed it had no worries about Jones’s performance as a flight inspector.

Now Stuff has discovered that alarm bells rang long ago over his investigation of Alpine Adventures after the 2015 Fox Glacier helicopter accident which killed seven people, and that senior CAA personnel were aware of shortcomings in that audit – and other complaints about Jones from customers.

Vector, September/October 2015 edition

According to an NZ CAA flight operations inspector job description dated January 2017, the ATPL or equivalent is an essential prerequisite. But CAA spokesman Richards later said the job description was a mistake and flight inspectors did not need the qualifications.

As a flight operations inspector, one of Jones’ most important jobs was to investigate the company involved in the glacier crash, on which he and two others came up with eight findings – including about training and record-keeping.

A CAA email obtained by Stuff shows Jones’s boss Steve Kern was concerned over breaches of CAA record-keeping protocols by Jones and others in regard to the glacier crash investigation.

The email shows that when Kern went into the CAA computer system in May 2016, much of the material he expected to find supporting the crash findings was missing or in the wrong place.

“For visits of this importance I was expecting to see some reasonable notes and evidence of what you did, who you talked to, what you found, any actions agreed etc.”

The email, to Jones and the other investigators, mentions visits to the home of Alpine Adventures’ owner James Scott, and Fox Glacier. Kern asks: “Where are both of your notes from the site visit capturing the detail?”

The GAA has written to the CAA demanding answers to a series of questions arising from Jones’s employment from 2014 to early this year and drawing parallels to how an engineer would be treated.

“If a licensed engineer used fraudulent qualifications to release an aircraft to service, then all aircraft and/or components that this engineer had touched should have been subject to a rigorous investigation.”

We have accused the CAA and Minister of Transport Simon Bridges of brushing off the problem, saying: “It smacks of a ‘trust us – we know what we are doing’ attitude unbecoming of a responsible and communicative authority.” The GAA says that the Authority’s expressed lack of concern about the quality of Jones’s work is further evidence that it is out of touch with (and entirely unsympathetic to) its clients.

It’s curious that Jones’s deception was going on at the CAA at about the same time that a major fraud was under way at the Ministry of Transport. Dodgy regulators, dodgy staff, dodgy gamekeepers – and Minister Simon Bridges, who oversees both entities, says he is not worried about how the CAA is run…

The CAA’s Fit and Proper Person application form. Senior persons (and everyone else) at the CAA are exempt

All aviation document holders in our aviation system (even microlight aircraft owners) are subject to stringent CAA Fit and Proper Person investigations.

On 2 June 2016,  the CAA Manager Aviation Infrastructure and Personnel, when asked about the CAA’s present policy for assessing the fit and proper status of senior people within the CAA and re-assessing them on an ongoing manner, told the GAA:

“The requirement to be a fit and proper person is prescribed by the Civil Aviation Act 1990. The Act only applies to holders of aviation documents, not the Authority’s staff.  Staff are subject to assessment processes during recruitment and selection activity and are also subject to various employment obligations and ongoing performance review processes”

This reveals that the people hired by the CAA to check on us are not checked or monitored as closely as its clients, who are not only required to satisfy Fit and Proper requirements to own an aeroplane. Now they also have to go through, and pay for, a similar exercise to access their own aeroplanes at an increasing number of regional airports.

The GAA believes that all CAA personnel, from the very top down, must now be made subject to at least the same scrutiny as their customers.

Everyone employed by the NZ CAA must prove beyond doubt that they are as clean as (or cleaner than) their clients.

Appeal Court allows multi-million dollar fraud case against the CAA

Grounded ex-military helicopters are the subject of a multi-million dollar claim of fraud against the Civil Aviation Authority.

Mark Wayne Ford of the now-liquidated Heli-Logging Ltd said that, if his suit was successful, he would seek $90 million in compensation from the CAA.

He alleges the Authority wrongfully refused to give him the go-ahead to use his helicopters for logging.

The amount sought would cover the loss of earnings, the cost of ten helicopters and spare parts and legal bills, he said.

Here’s the full story

Those not-so-Small Issues – A big win for common sense

The CAA has told the Aviation Community Advisory Group that the proposal to amend the definition of major modification and major repair (included in the Small Issues NPRM) will not be progressing as part of the final rules package.

The CAA seems to be still finalising its position, which will appear in the response to submissions, but the current draft reads:

As a result of industry feedback on the proposed Part 1 definitions for “major modification” and “major repair”, the CAA has recognised that additional work is required in relation to these and potentially other related definitions not currently addressed in the NPRM.  The CAA accepts that the proposed definitions, by identifying specific aircraft systems, go to a level of detail below that intended by the current definitions’ inclusion of higher-level hazardous situations.   It is not the CAA’s intention to broaden the scope of these definitions, rather to provide additional clarification as to what modifications and repairs could potentially have an appreciable effect on an aircraft’s airworthiness, and therefore be considered as “major”.   The CAA agrees that this intention may be better achieved by way of additional guidance material to support any potential rule changes.  The CAA will revisit these definitions in light of industry’s feedback and provide further draft proposals in the future.

It’s nice to have the occasional win…

Leaving helicopters unattended with rotors turning under power – here’s another daft idea

The amendments proposed to Part 91 and Part 135 which introduce restrictions on the ability of a helicopter pilot to leave the controls with the rotors turning are not a Small Issue, are inconsistent with current practice, will have significant unintended consequences, and should not be proceeded with.

This rule change defies logic and must be scrapped (Photo courtesy of Mountain Helicopters)

Furthermore, the CAA’s unilateral decision – that unless the flight manual specifically permits this activity, it is prohibited – is a 180-degree reversal of the permissive manner in which flight manuals have historically been read.

The CAA has itself identified its own inconsistency in interpreting how the flight manual should be applied and it set about analysing the issue (16/ISS/17); yet this proposed amendment cuts directly across this ongoing work with a unilateral and incorrect interpretation.

Had this proposal been subjected to a meaningful risk analysis involving stakeholders, it would have become apparent that safety risks around helicopters are elevated when the aircraft is on the ground and unaccompanied persons are in the same vicinity.

The primary (and in most cases, the only) available mitigation, especially in off-airport landing areas, is for the pilot to leave the controls and accompany people to/from the aircraft.  Far more people are alive today having been accompanied in the vicinity of the aircraft by the pilot than have been injured by helicopters lifting off without a pilot on board.

Other scenarios where the benefits exceed the risks include situations where temperature/altitude may preclude achieving an engine start, locations where inability to achieve an engine start would place the helicopter occupants at increased risk, and conditions where having the heater/demister functioning during passenger boarding is preferable.

This rule amendment is opposed and should not proceed under any circumstances.

There is no word yet on whether rotors in motion or CAA Notices will be progressing to final rule.

PPL Medical Certification Consultation – a further reminder

The end of the Class 2 medical is by no means assured

Below is a link to the AOPA NZ website relating to the CAA consultation process on PPL medical certification.

AOPA NZ has done a great deal of work on this and on the left hand side of the AOPA NZ home page, titled PPL Medical Review 2017, you will find a convenient link to the AOPA NZ policy and submission documents as well as the CAA consultation feedback form. The link is: http://www.aopa.co.nz/page.php?id=183

We can’t stress strongly enough how important it is for all pilots to get behind this initiative by either making their own submissions or by joining as a co-submitter to the AOPA NZ submission.

If you wish to join as a co-submitter to the AOPA NZ submission, email Des Lines with your name and CAA client number to airfabrico [at] xtra [dot] co [dot] nz

Des will add your name to the growing list of co-submitters.

The new CAA levies – read this, and reach for your calculator

Qwilton Biel has written an article about the longer-term implications of the new levy structure. Click here to read it.

Apply the figures in Qwilton’s article to your operation to calculate how much you will pay the CAA under this new regime. One operator has done his sums and found that, because he is classed as a “good operator” and is on a two-yearly audit regime, he is facing a cost increase of 188%.

Where, we ask, is the fairness in that?

PBN approval process for Part 91 operators – calling all guinea pigs!

By 2023, Performance Based Navigation (PBN) will be how all IFR aircraft find their way around the country. Between now and then, we will see PBN procedures become more prevalent and aircraft/operators equipping and transitioning to this new standard.

The GAA has received comments from a couple of early adopters about their experiences when seeking Part 91 PBN approval, and we would like to hear from others who have gone through either the airworthiness or operational approval process. Your contact is Qwilton Biel at qwilton [at] biel [dot] nz

A number of forums and working groups have sprung up around this New Southern Sky project. Our input gives an opportunity for the experiences of “guinea pigs” to smooth the way for those who follow in the approval process.

CAA Notices: Why the authoritarians must be stopped

In dreaming up the CAA Notices concept, the CAA is effectively giving the finger to industry and needs to be firmly put back in its cage.  The Authority has twisted the intent of the law-makers on a grand scale in order to increase its powers and subvert the checks and balances that exist in the rules development process.

This has to be stopped.

If the CAA’s interpretation of Section 28(5) is allowed to stand, aviators will have no recourse to the MoT or Minister regarding the content of CAA Notices.

To read more about the CAA Notices process, where the CAA becomes the risk-definer, the solution-chooser, the rule-maker and the law-enforcer, click here.

RPAS – Post-implementation review of Parts 101 and 102

The CAA is undertaking a post-implementation review of New Zealand’s rules for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) / Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS):

  • Part 101Gyrogliders and Parasails, Unmanned Aircraft (including Balloons), Kites; and Rockets – Operating Rules; and
  • Part 102Unmanned Aircraft Operator Certification.

Phase one of this review is a short survey developed in consultation with the Aviation Community Advisory Group.

You can complete the survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RPAS_Feedback


About the GAA

The GAA is a voluntary social network for people involved in New Zealand General Aviation. It has more than 2000 registered supporters.

It has no constitution, no formal membership and no fees. It has no income and it seeks no profit. It exists to independently promote and defend GA in New Zealand by analysing and publicising aviation issues, challenging authority, and often personally advocating on behalf of “the little people” in our aviation system – many of whom find it hard to confront seemingly powerful bureaucrats.

GAA supporters are concerned about the Civil Aviation Authority – its poorly controlled overheads, its inadequate service levels, its red tape and its escalating fees. Many are worried about CAA policies that threaten general aviation-related businesses and may damage the future of the next generation of amateur and professional aviators.

The GAA aims to encourage constructive dialogue among everyone involved in our nation’s aviation – including bureaucrats, politicians and established aviation organisations.

GAA supporters include:

  • Airline pilots of all ranks, based in New Zealand, Australia, and around the world
  • Helicopter pilots based in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia
  • PPL and RPL holders, and microlight pilots
  • Homebuilt aircraft pilots
  • Instructors and student pilots
  • Balloon pilots and operators
  • Glider pilots
  • Skydivers and skydive operators
  • Licensed Aircraft Maintenance Engineers
  • Flight training schools
  • Fixed base helicopter operators
  • Maintenance organisations, and
  • Small commercial aircraft operators

Become a subscriber

By registering on the GAA website, you also benefit from a regular update by email – and you can have your say on the website.