Welcome to the General Aviation Advocacy Group of New Zealand

Archives for February 2013

Have you ever wondered? Part 1

It is in everyone’s interests to offer ideas that might slim down and produce a more efficient and cost-effective New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority. This includes a) airline passengers, b) politicians, c) general aviation folk and d) the people who work at the CAA.

But pending the announcement of a radically new rapid response policy from CAA or life-changing information from a), b) and d) , it’s down to us in Class c) to ask the questions and suggest some answers.

The outlook is bleak, but GAA supporters are investigating alternative funding options and how our CAA could save money and reduce general aviation inflation. This subject falls under the topic of “Have you ever wondered?” It will be a feature of your website, as we wonder about all sorts of expensive CAA mysteries, and try to explain them.

If you’ve ever wondered about anything CAA claims it must pay for (or feels compelled to charge you for), do drop us a line.

Fuel on an A380? No tax. GST on a light aircraft’s fuel? 15 percent. It usually can’t be reclaimed, and it pays for nothing bureaucrats can show will help general aviation

On January 22 2013 and under the Official Information Act, we asked the Honourable Gerry Brownlee, Minister of Transport, a series of questions and some of these have been answered by Bryan Field. Bryan is Acting Manager, Modelling and Sector Trends, Infrastructure and Resources Branch, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

It will have taken some time for Bryan’s PA to type his job title, and it may take you some time to understand it. But we know it took four weeks for him to reply, so if you’re in a six-week consultation process that might involve Bryan and the Official Information Act, say your prayers and hope they are answered within the limitations of the OIA, or before you or the the consultation period deadline expires – or The One Above divinely intervenes on your behalf.

We wanted to know how much tax imposed on fuel used by aircraft goes into funding the CAA.

Bryan tackled these questions:

Q What is the tax component in:

a. A litre of AVGAS (aviation gasoline)

b. A litre of AVTUR (aviation kerosene)

A There is no fuel levy directly applied to the purchase of aviation fuel for use in New Zealand. However, Goods and Services Tax (GST) is payable at a rate of 15%.

Q What proportion of that tax component is made available for the funding of the CAA and for AVSEC?

A GST feeds into the Crown’s consolidated account. There are no specific fuel levies to fund the Civil Aviation Authority or Aviation Security.

Q If this tax is not directed to funding the CAA, where does it ultimately end up and what benefit (if any) to the aviation sector does it provide?

A GST feeds into the Crown’s consolidated account. This supports public services throughout New Zealand, which are for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

Q What amount of AVGAS was consumed by aviation in NZ over the 12-month period 31 March 2011 to 1 April 2012?

A Approximately 15.6 million litres of aviation gasoline (AVGAS) was consumed by the New Zealand domestic aviation fleet in the year to 31 March 2012.

Q What amount of AVTUR was consumed by aviation in NZ over the 12-month period 31 March 2011 to 1 April 2012?

A Approximately 334.2 million litres of Jet A1 (AVTUR/aviation kerosene) was consumed by the New Zealand domestic aviation fleet in the year to 31 March 2012. Note that this excludes fuel consumed for international air travel.

What Bryan didn’t mention (and what we until recently didn’t know) was that there is also a tax of 3.5% on imported fuel. This is supposed to pay for “product testing”, and the tax (along with your GST) goes into the Consolidated Account. This slush fund is used for all sorts of consolidated cross-subsidisation – which the National Party-led Government proudly claims to thoroughly disapprove of, but spends the money willy-nilly, anyway.

So the long and the short of it is this:

No identifiable tax income on aviation fuel goes towards funding the CAA, so the principle of “user pays, user says” does not apply. Microlight pilots are even more hard done-by. They pay a road tax component in the price of mogas that the Government may or may not spend on building or maintaining roads which their aircraft will never land on.

Instead, all these taxes are used to cross-subsidise all manner of consolidated stuff that neither we nor the Government have the time to identify.

GA safety: One leading authority calls in outside expertise

UK GA pilots can expect an increasing amount of safety publications available online. Here, we’re mostly stuck with ink on paper

Government departments are not always the exclusive fountain of all knowledge, as the UK CAA has recognised. It’s decided to outsource its GA safety publications. Publishing group Archant will soon begin overhauling and producing general aviation safety material on the CAA’s behalf.

This will see Archant produce three editions a year of the CAA’s Clued Up magazine, featuring the latest GA safety advice and news – and they will be posted free to all UK registered PPLs, NPPLs and LAPLs. Digital editions of the magazine will also be available.

The change will also mark the end of production of the CAA’s General Aviation Safety Information Leaflets.

The UK Airprox Board’s (UKAB) twice-yearly publications will also cease, to be replaced by a special edition of Clued Up, analysing recent significant incidents.

Archant is the publisher of Britain’s long-running Pilot magazine. Jonathan Nicholson, of the CAA’s Corporate Communications Department, says: “The team behind Pilot are very experienced aviation journalists and flying enthusiasts. We are confident that that knowledge, combined with the resources of a major publishing house, will produce a high quality product.”

Nick Wall, Group Editor of Pilot magazine, says: “With our colleagues in Archant Dialogue, we are looking forward to developing the CAA’s safety publications, in print and digitally.”

The UK Airprox Board’s primary objective is to enhance flight safety in the UK, in particular in respect of lessons to be learned and applied from Airprox occurrences reported within UK airspace. UKAB is sponsored jointly – and funded equally – by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and the UK Ministry of Defence.

To encourage an open and honest reporting environment, names of companies and individuals are not published in UKAB’s reports. Its website is intended to contribute to the UK’s continuing drive to enhance flight safety. Details of specific Airprox events are provided, along with ‘lessons identified’ and action flowing from UKAB Safety Recommendations.

An Airprox is a situation in which, in the opinion of a pilot or a controller, the distance between aircraft as well as their relative positions and speed have been such that the safety of the aircraft involved was or may have been compromised.

The most immediate benefit of the Airprox system is for those involved in each event. Pilots and controllers each receive their own copy of the board’s final report, which sets out what happened and why. There are no names, and all language of blame is avoided. Instead, straightforward statements are made on what took place, with the emphasis placed on identifying lessons of benefit to all.

General aviation in the UK seems to be operating under a slightly different culture to ours.

Airways fee proposals: Some questions are answered

Hands up everyone who has not read, from beginning to end, the consultation documents issued by Airways with respect to proposed fee increases?

OK, we put our hands up too.

For very many people in this country, attending an hour-long explanatory Airways seminar involves a two- or three-hour journey by road. We invited Airways to provide a summary of what’s planned, so we could spare you the journey. This would have made the proposals easier to understand for Airways’ clients – but more than three weeks into the process, Airways had not responded to the invitation. All we received was a puzzling PowerPoint presentation.

In the meantime, there were a few immediate questions to ask, and we’re grateful to Scott Scrimgeour at Airways for swiftly answering them. The really bad news for those based within controlled airspace is a more than doubling of their ATC costs per movement.

1 – Based at Napier, and within controlled airspace, I pay about $3.50 for Airways for clearance arrival. Will I now have to pay for a departure clearance?

No, Airways proposes to continue to charge for arrivals only.

However, in line with last year’s Pricing Framework consultations, new prices propose a minimum fee of $7.30 at regional aerodromes, so very light aircraft prices would increase. The minimum fee is part of the pricing formula simplification. The pricing formula has been simplified to a minimum price and a per tonne price. Overall, proposed revenue collected from per movement landings is approximately the same as current levels.

2 – What will be the overall impact of your proposed charges on a light aircraft based at an aerodrome within controlled airspace, per movement? A rough estimate will suffice.

It is proposed all aircraft under 2.6 tonnes would pay a flat fee of $7.30 at regional aerodromes and all aircraft under 3.7 tonnes would pay a flat fee of $10.45 at main trunk aerodromes (Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch).

3 – A circuit charge was mentioned at your seminars. Is the charge per touch and go, or does it cover all circuits, go arounds and missed approaches in a single session?

The circuit charge covers all circuits, go arounds and missed approaches, except when the circuit is at an air traffic controller’s request. If the circuit is at an air traffic controller’s request, there would be no charge because it was not the pilot’s choice to fly the circuit.

4 – I understand, anecdotally, that consideration is being given to providing VFR lanes in some controlled airspace. Is this correct, and if so, is this more in relation to CAA’s recently introduced transponder requirements than ATC charges? There is some confusion about this.

Yes, this is correct – consideration is more in line with CAA recently introduced transponder requirements than ATC charges. There are some locations where VFR Transit Lanes are already in place but there are others where it would be helpful to both ATC and pilots, particularly those with aircraft that do not have transponders.

5 – Will those using FISCOM be subject to any charges?

Only if a flight plan is filed – this is not a change from current prices. Proposed prices for filing a flight plan are based on current prices with an inflation adjustment applied.

Roger. Now go make a cup of strong cocoa, and read the documents!

March 6 update:

Airways announced: We have updated our pricing calculator and four comparison tables (which were provided to help customers calculate the impact of Airways’ proposed prices for the 2013 – 2016 period).

The update was necessary to correct an inaccuracy (under which proposed pricing was compared to 2011/12 prices rather than 2012/13 prices).

The online calculator has been updated, while the comparison tables have been updated and uploaded to Airways’ website.

Both the updated calculator and comparison tables now accurately reference 2012/13 prices, not 2011/12 prices (as before).

Using the updated calculator and tables, customers will find their comparative calculations will decrease by 1.8% – representing a minor impact on calculations.

Please be aware all other information featured in Airways’ consultation document is accurate and remains unchanged.

The updated pricing calculator and comparison tables can be found on our website at https://www.airways.co.nz/airways_Services/consultation_docs.asp

For $313, why not get up really close and personal?

Purchasers of Rolls-Royces or Bentleys would never dream of paying online. It’s so vulgar. They expect a chauffeur to pick them up, along with the chequebook, and ferry them to the showroom. Complimentary Champagne is often a feature of such transactions.

Now, we’re not expecting such a high level of service from the Civil Aviation Authority. But with CAA labour charges now well north of what you’d pay a Roller mechanic per hour, you can add value by making the experience just that little bit more intimate.

For example, if you would like to feel as if you are getting some value for money for your $313 medical application fee, a GAA reader has suggested that you do not use the online payment system (which has been designed not for your convenience, but for that of the CAA).

Instead, why not pick up the phone and have a nice conversation with one of the lovely ladies in the accounts department at Featherston Street?

You can discuss the weather, express your dissatisfaction about having to pay this ransom, make polite small talk, and eventually give her your credit card details, which will then need to be entered manually into the system. An added bonus: By doing this, you are also not accepting the CAA terms and conditions (which you must when making a payment online), and this may make subsequent disputes more productive.

And why not close the conversation with a cheery “Have a nice day”?

If you have received an account, then ask for an itemised one to prove that you are genuinely receiving value for money. Never miss a chance to query all charges. It’s a small gesture, but it shows you care…

Nothing on the telly? Tune into ATC instead

Air traffic control in the UK could be in for a radical overhaul, if research into a new way of locating and tracking aircraft gets the green light, says the BBC.

Radar provider Thales has been given funding to look into using existing TV signals to locate and track aircraft. Dubbed multi-static primary surveillance radar, the system has several benefits. Chief is the fact that it would free up spectrum for next-generation 5G mobile services (something that will be of little interest to the New Zealand Government).

The proposed system works by using the TV transmitters dotted around the UK. Each will receive the same TV signal, but at a slightly different time because of the reflections and interactions with aircraft flying in their vicinity.

The received signals are then compared to the original broadcast, and the difference is used to locate the position of the aircraft.

The two-year research project is being funded by the Technology Strategy Board, a government agency set up to find innovative ways of using technology.

Thales believes that the large number of TV transmitters means the system could provide a more reliable infrastructure than the current one, which typically relies on one radar per airport. From the government’s point of view, a new system would mean that it could sell off spectrum currently used by air traffic control.

The auction of the airwaves that will allow widespread 4G services in the UK is ongoing but the government is already looking to release more spectrum for 5G services, probably around 2020.

Another issue for current air traffic control systems is that they face interference from wind farms, which are increasingly springing up around the UK to provide alternative sources of energy.

John Smith, head of Air Traffic Management strategy at Thales, said that the two issues make a compelling argument for change, but admits that not everyone is persuaded that the current system, which has been in use since World War Two, needs an overhaul.

“There are an awful lot of barriers to gaining acceptance in the marketplace,” he said.

“In the air traffic control industry, there is a belief that things have always been done a certain way and so there is reluctance to move to something that is radically different. We have to prove, first and foremost, that it is safe.”

This sounds familiar…

National CFZ Network: An idea stretching way back in time

Back, in fact to 1998. The CAA has been thinking it over, on and off, ever since then.

To get an idea how slowly the wheels can grind, here’s Massey University School of Aviation’s timeline of events since it first tabled its ideas. The best news is at the end…

2010

&#9830 Following the establishment of the Taranaki CFZ in May, Massey tabled the idea of establishing CFZs nationwide.

&#9830 Emailed CAA in August to submit the idea.

&#9830 Received very positive feedback CAA Aeronautical Services Officer and Manager Aeronautical Services. CAA supplied a discussion document it had created in December 1998 suggesting the future development of a national CFZ network.

&#9830 From August, began working with local users in the lower North Island to produce a CFZ network in the region.

&#9830 Concept was tabled at Palmerston North Airport User Group and Feilding Aerodrome User Group, where it was met with full support.

&#9830 Discussed with RNZAF, with full support,

&#9830 Discussed with Airways, which had no objections.

2011

&#9830 January: formal request for establishment of CFZs with draft proposal was sent to the CAA.

&#9830 April (3 months later): received formal reply from CAA Field Safety Advisor (on behalf of Aeronautical Unit) indicating it had been “put on the backburner”.

&#9830 June: received formal reply from CAA Aeronautical Services Officer, informing us the proposal had been put on hold indefinitely as it did not attract a high priority at the CAA.

&#9830 November: Safety Management System (SMS) was introduced at Massey. Through this system, the hazard and risk assessment of the lack of common frequencies and increased traffic flow in uncontrolled airspace was deemed to be unacceptable and the project was revived.

2012

&#9830 During March, a paper was completed by Massey outlining the case to establish a “National CFZ Network”.

&#9830 This document was presented to RAeS, with full support.

&#9830 Tabled at AIA Training Division, which agreed it was a good idea.

&#9830 Discussed amongst Air New Zealand Aviation Institute FTO Partners, with full support.

&#9830 Article published in the August edition of Pacific Wings.

&#9830 Presented at CAA Flight Examiner seminar in August, with 100% support from the group.

&#9830 Communicated to Len Wicks Regional Officer Air Traffic Management ICAO Thailand. He said: “Regional Office fully supports the concept”.

&#9830 RNZAC Flight Instructor Council supports a full review of the radio frequencies used around NZ and would like to be involved with any ongoing discussion on this matter.

&#9830 Early November: Meeting held at Massey with CAA to discuss CFZ proposal and the industry support gained.

CAA indicated it was in discussions with Airways around the use of FISCOM as an alternative means to meet the uncontrolled airspace radio issues.

Meeting outcome: A response will be given to Massey from CAA in 2 – 3 weeks with industry consultation expected before the end of the year, with a suggested implementation by March/April 2013.

&#9830 Late November: Massey checks with CAA on progress. CAA indicates the following timeframe:

Dec 2012, finalise Airways provision or a national flight information service and FISCOM coverage. Dec 2012 / Jan 2013, Discussion document issued to industry in regard to radio frequency, use of FISCOM and review of current common frequency zones. End Feb 2013, consultation complete. March 2013, Final decision made on radio frequency network. April 2013, Finalisation so any charting amendments can be made for Nov 2013.

&#9830 Mid-December: Massey checks with CAA on progress.

CAA responds to say several meetings are under way with Airways and AOPA and things are coming together. Rather than rush it out before Christmas, they would rather address it early 2013. A revised timeframe should be given by the end of the week and a meeting with Massey in mid-January.

2013

&#9830 Late January: Massey checks with CAA on progress.

CAA responds to say higher priority work and one staff member resigning has resulted in a reprioritising of tasks. “You will see we ran an article on ‘The Right Frequency’ in the Jan/Feb CAA Vector“. CAA planning on having a document out for comment by end of February at the latest. Draft for Massey and AOPA by end of next week.

&#9830 Early February: CAA sends draft radio procedures discussion document to Massey for comment. CAA indicates this document will go to industry very soon with a submission period of several weeks.

Babel In The Sky With Diamonds

by Peter L Collins

I’m a flier in a club,
and we all want safety, but here’s the rub,
those people out there who make the rules,
(some of my friends say they must be fools),
have told us what frequencies we must use,
(which some of my friends do quite refuse),
when we tell them where we are, to avoid a collision,
(which some of my friends also view with derision).
It’s known when you’re flying down low in the mountains,
radio waves don’t rise up like fountains.

Little planes that fly along,
some of them flimsy, others strong,
some of them high and others low,
some of some of them fast and other ones slow,
calling on radio into the void,
so each other they can hope to avoid.
But they can’t hear each other, for the rules are just mad,
and the channels are muddled, it’s really quite sad,
It’s a Tower of Babel, that’s what it is,
and the CAA god is in quite a tizz,
because of the wee planes that fall from the sky,
bringing to families more tears to the eye,
whenever two wee planes don’t know of the others,
and crash and the remains get brought home to mothers.

The frequencies chosen have to make sense,
even to pilots like me, who are dense.
One region one frequency, it’s not that damn hard,
even I get it, and I’m a retard.
So please call on parliament to do what it could
or more so what it really should
and get your rank and file involved
so the problem might get solved.

It’s easy to fix – or that’s what I’m told,
But I fear they won’t do it until I’m too old
to take my wee plane high up in the sky
for it’s in my warm bed that I’m hoping to die.

Lord, give me a frequency for my next call,
that will guarantee it goes out to all
who are flying around me, down low in the sky,
for I want them to hear me so none of us die.

Featherston St, you have a problem!

Across the nation, spirits fell and eyebrows shot up when pilots’ eyeballs detected an anonymous article in the CAA’s January/February edition of Vector, counselling everyone on the correct use of radio frequencies. As well as eyebrows, hackles were raised by this statement in particular:

“There have been reports of pilots listening out on and using 119.1 everywhere, but this is a waste of time and not a lot of use to anyone because away from the aerodrome boundary other frequencies will be used. Using 119.1 adds yet another frequency unnecessarily to the mix, when a FISCOM frequency should probably be monitored.”

Tell that to the folks flitting around Opotiki, or running up and down the West Coast anywhere between Takaka and Hokitika, or flying low and slow in the Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay.

Bend an ear to their mocking laughter when the cloud base is 2500 ft, as Vector’s guru advises VFR pilots: “To ensure clear [FISCOM] reception you may need to be above 4000 feet, depending on your location and the surrounding terrain.”

The unknown author of this advice may be flying in a parallel universe, or may be armchair-bound. In the real world, and in the absence of a properly organised system of Common Frequency Zones, responsible pilots do something different. They talk to each other, and very often they talk on 119.1.

But here’s the real shocker: The author of this Vector advice (most likely a CAA employee) probably knew full well what most of the rest of us did not: that a solution to a potentially very dangerous situation had already been studied, developed and sent to the CAA; it was submitted to the CAA more than six months ago. It was also sent to other organisations, including AOPA and RAANZ, around September 2012.

There is no evidence that – despite its authors’ written request that it be distributed as widely as possible to encourage debate – either AOPA or RAANZ have informed their members. There is no evidence of CAA sharing the ideas with anyone, either.

And GAA only learned about it on February 13, almost by accident.

In the document, THE CASE FOR A NATIONAL NETWORK OF COMMON FREQUENCY ZONES (CFZ) IN CLASS G AIRSPACE, produced at Massey University’s School of Aviation, the authors state that it is time to deal with the problem of common frequencies, and they suggest a solution.

It is understood that this document has not been well received at the CAA.

GAA now publishes it.

You can read it under the SAFETY tag at the top of the home page.

Before this document found its way to GAA, we were merely occupied by the FISCOM-focused Vector article, and some interesting comments came in from other readers in response to an invitation from Des Lines. He used, as an example, the situation of a flight following the coast from Amberley Beach along the coastline to Banks Peninsula and the possibility of aircraft being on

&#9830 FISCOM 124.4, on the seaward side of the beach,

&#9830 Rangiora CFZ 120.2, on the landward side of the beach,

&#9830 CHC Tower in the vicinity of the New Brighton training area and then eventually

&#9830 118.75 Banks Peninsula CFZ.

Let’s kick off the debate with some of the first reactions:

This, from a pilot based at Rangiora:

“We have a small (but universal) uprising here. The informal rule is 119.1 at all times except when in controlled space, CFZ, MBZ or landing at a field with a gazetted frequency. Never use FISCOM – it will get you into trouble. You have to cope with their responses to the whole country, you have less chance to negotiate avoidance paths with others nearby, they take no responsibility for separation, so if you are on your own anyhow, why let a third party muddle the waters between you and those nearby? The problem is that some may be working 119.1 and others working FISCOM.”

And one from Hawke’s Bay:

“I had a chat with the guys in Bridge Pa and Opotiki. The general consensus is:

Nobody uses FISCOM when flying beyond Bridge Pa to, say, Waipukurau, Dannevirke, or Masterton. They use 119.1 because it’s the YP and DV and MS frequency. They, and it seems all the students out of Palmerston N, use 119.1 in most of Hawke’s Bay. So do the folks going over KY, and anyone passing NR en route WO, (they’ll, of course, talk to Napier on 124.80, and check NR’s ATIS on 128.00). At Opotoki, the locals use 119.1 and monitor Whakatane, because they know some of the Whakatane people will not change from their aerodrome channel until they are overhead OP or getting close to TG or Rotorua. They say FISCOM is a nonsense, simply because it is not used and everyone flying low is talking on 119.1 to the local traffic. What is the point of a FISCOM channel to someone navigating short local routes at low level?”

Hamilton-based Chief Instructor and Deputy Head of Training at CTC Aviation Training (NZ) Limited’s Greg Haggarty:

“This is a good topic for discussion. My view is that FISCOM frequencies are under-utilised and 119.1 is being over-utilised and inappropriately so. Regardless of this, it seems that many, many pilots are treating 119.1 as a general position reporting frequency. I have heard many position reports addressing ‘Waikato traffic’, ‘King Country traffic’ etc etc.

I’m aware of the proposal out of Massey to create a network of CFZs to cover the entire country but my view is we could achieve a similar outcome from more utilisation of the FISCOM service without having to create something new.”

And from Murray Fowler, CAA Aviation Safety Advisor:

“Unfortunately this issue has quietly worsened over the years because instructors have increasingly been teaching students that 119.1 is the way to go, in particular the helicopter fraternity.

We need to look at the basic original concept which seemed to work very well especially when we didn’t have to pay to do this or that (Airways), and there wasn’t quite as much traffic about. There are arguments for both 119.1 and FISCOM.

119.1 is recognised as the unattended aerodrome frequency which even in earlier days could become congested especially if conditions were right jamming would occur even between some north and south island aerodromes. For a large number of aircraft to remain on this frequency even when not operating in a circuit or other 119.1 designated area only serves to aggravate the issue. There have been other issues as well that the GA pilot might not be aware of, which necessitated some aerodromes having to change freq off 119.1. Wanaka was an example. The airline operating into WF doing the situational awareness thing early in the approach and trying to broadcast intentions or listen out was unable to do so because of the incessant prattle that was on frequency from all over the country. Above 9 or 10 thousand feet, you get it all.

I promote the use of FISCOM especially for en route / cross-country traffic. The fact is that is what FISCOM is for, and in the long chance, the pilot has an emergency on his hands, and provided he is operating within published coverage areas someone is guaranteed to be listening and required to provide some action. There is no such service on 119.1. Having said that, I don’t really have an issue with an aircraft remaining on the local aerodrome frequency if the flight is to be a very short local one. We used to do exactly that in earlier days to the west of CH. We didn’t have the proliferation of frequencies to use then, we just remained on CH Twr freq. Another issue to consider is that if no one wants to use FISCOM, it could possibly be another service we will lose.

In recent times, everyone has jumped on the bandwagon and decided to have their own frequency for their own bit of airspace. In my opinion, this has aggravated communications issues by introducing a myriad of airspace boundaries which is a safety concern in itself and compounds the issues of situational awareness due to, in some cases, numerous different frequencies being used in the same airspace. Off the coast of CH is a good example.”

This is a nationwide bugger’s muddle presided over by the CAA. The tragic collision involving two Massey training flights – most likely on different frequencies when the occupants were killed – should have been more than enough to concentrate minds down in Featherston Street.

Instead, we now know that the CAA received suggestions to resolve this problem, and instead of sharing the ideas with the aviation community, chose instead to publish an article in Vector that merely reinforced CAA’s established and confusing dogma.

Worse, there is evidence that some aviation organisations who received this discussion document back in September – along with a request that it be widely distributed to encourage debate – chose not to share it with their members.

Please read the Massey discussion document.

Then, please tell everyone out here what you think.

Has someone been meddling with your RPL medical?

When it comes to Recreational Pilot Licence medical requirements, NZ CAA Rule Parts 61.35(b) and 61.355(a) (2) prescribe that the holder must hold an appropriate driver’s licence medical certificate with a passenger endorsement.

Nothing more.

The original intention was that pilots who were unable to meet the requirements for the higher Class 2 and Class 1 licence grades could continue to fly, subject to heavily restricted operational conditions.

It is understood that CAA was never happy about losing control of RPL medicals and the purpose of this article is to express a concern that NZ CAA is sometimes placing further restrictions on top of the medical requirement to hold the driver licence certificate as described in the above Rule Parts.

This is at odds with an article that appeared in the CAA Vector magazine Sept/Oct 2007, which stated:

Land Transport Medical Certificate

The proposed amendments to CAR Part 61 require a person wanting an RPL to hold a Land Transport New Zealand (LTNZ) Medical Certificate, valid for a Class 2, 3, 4, or 5 driver licence, with passenger endorsement. This will be issued by a General Practitioner (GP) in accordance with the Land Transport medical requirements. The cost of obtaining an LTNZ Medical Certificate will be about a quarter of the cost of the Class 2 aviation medical certificate. The CAA will not be involved in decision-making for the issuing of the medical certificate. The GP will issue it. If a pilot is not satisfied with a GP’s decision to decline to issue the LTNZ Medical Certificate, they will have to utilise the appeal process under the LTNZ legislation, not the Civil Aviation Act. RPL holders who are aged over 40 and hold an LTNZ Medical Certificate will be required to renew their Medical Certificate every two years. RPL holders who are under the age of 40 will be required to renew their medical certificate every five years. For more information on LTNZ Medical Certificates, see the LTNZ web site…

Further to that, AC 61 -20 Rev 4 on 04 Dec 2009 states:

Medical requirements

The medical standards for the issue of, and for the continuing use of, an RPL are the NZTA medical fitness standards that are applicable for a Class 2, 3, 4 or 5 driver licence with a passenger endorsement.

An applicant for the issue of an RPL, and the holder of an RPL wishing to renew their medical fitness certification must be examined by a medical practitioner. The medical practitioner will use and complete the NZTA form DL9 to conduct the medical examination in accordance with the NZTA document “Medical Aspects of Fitness to Drive: A Guide for Medical Practitioners” issued by the Director of Land Transport. The NZTA form DL9 is provided by the medical practitioner who will provide the completed and signed DL9 form to the person undergoing the medical examination at the conclusion of the examination.

Now, contrary to the previously stated “hands off “ approach by the CAA to medical certification of the RPL as stated above, we discover that the NZTA DL9 medical form must then be sent in with the forms for an initial issue or a renewal application. The NZTA DL9 form is apparently then sent to the CAA medical unit where it is obviously “audited” and then without any previously disclosed authority to act, the CAA medical section may add further restrictions to the NZTA medical certificate.

It is my assertion that if a pilot is certified fit to drive a public transport vehicle by having a valid NZTA medical to fitness standards that are applicable for a Class 2, 3, 4 or 5 driver licence with a passenger endorsement, that should be the end of the matter. The pilot is properly and legally licensed in accordance with AC 61-20.

In my opinion, all that should be required to achieve the previously asserted CAA “hands off approach” should be a simple signed certification statement by the examining GP that the applicant meets the medical requirements of the NZTA. There is no good reason why the NZTA DL9 medical form should be sent to the CAA medical unit.

I don’t know how often this is happening, but it certainly has in one case that has been brought to my attention. Anecdotal evidence suggests that others are similarly affected.

If this practice is not challenged, the primary purpose of the introduction of this licence category will be lost.

In correspondence with the Manager of Personnel Licensing, by the person who brought this matter to my attention, the CAA response was the somewhat contradictory assertion that the driver’s medical is a minimum requirement.

Precisely what is the requirement for anything more?

To quote once more from Vector Sept / Oct 2007:

“operating conditions and limitations for the RPL are designed to minimise any additional risks that may arise from the lower medical standards, and mitigate the consequences if something goes wrong.”

If more and more medical restrictions are arbitrarily being placed upon a RPL, one might well ask: Where it will end?

To challenge this interference by the CAA medical section, we need evidence of further restrictions being added to the NZTA medical that existing RPL holders have personally experienced.

Those who have experienced such “meddling” may email Des at airfabrico [at] xtra [dot] co [dot] nz

Why Advanced GPS Use should be a PPL subject

Early examiners of his flying prowess were quick to accept the claim that in one earlier life, he was a racing pigeon, and in another, a homing salmon. How else could every unerring flight home be explained? He simply seemed to know the way, in cloud or in the dark, and no matter where from.

Reincarnated as a human being, there was dead reckoning and the plastic computer to contend with. Allowing for drift does not come easy to a former homing pigeon. It comes naturally.

However, few Johnny-come-lately mortals can claim such an evolutionary gift and for them, navigation requires serious study. Rather like arithmetic and mathematics. If you don’t understand how sums work, you can never be completely at ease with a pocket calculator.

Our CAA now apparently seeks to exclude the use of GPS from the basic training syllabus. This may temporarily harm the latest generation of students, who know the score (and their present position within a couple of metres). They’ll get over it, and will merely feel disrespect and pity for those sad, so-called CAA superiors.

The people who propose – and may force through – such a course will eventually be proved to have been as primitive as those who predicted that steam engines would kill livestock, and the clerics who persecuted scientists, saying that GPS could never work because God had stated that the Earth was flat and the Sun revolved around it.

In their defence, it must be said that the use of calculators in the classroom may have gone too far, at the expense of grass-roots education, because we also have evidence that students demonstrating a knowledge of algebraic equations are presenting themselves for aviation tests without an adequate knowledge of basic mathematics.

Des Lines says: “I’m having a major problem with the content of the NCEA maths syllabus in relation to the tutorials that I run for PPL exams. It came as a bit of a surprise that I needed to teach remedial maths to students who were up to NCEA Level 3 standard.

“Aviation exams are different from other exams in that they do not permit the use of calculators. Although our high school students are able to do long and complicated algebraic equations, they are at a total loss when it comes to performing basic mental arithmetic and they do not have the methodology for working long division, multiplication, addition and subtraction problems.”

But can it really be true that someone in the New Zealand CAA has seriously proposed that GPS should be excluded from basic flight training? Apparently so. Otherwise, Massey Aviation students would not have looked into this bewildering suggestion, let alone build a presentation about it.

The presentation, titled ‘GPS in the New Zealand General Aviation Environment’, was created by graduates of the School of Aviation’s Flight Instructor Course as part of their group study assignment.

School of Aviation Chief Executive Ashok Poduval says the seminar is topical because the CAA is consulting on the issue of GPS in flight training.

A recently issued notice of proposed rule-making by the CAA suggests that the Private Pilot’s Licence syllabus should exclude the use of GPS equipment in cross-country navigation training.

Mr Poduval says the CAA may be concerned that pilots will become over-reliant on GPS and not learn fundamental navigation and map reading skills.

“At Massey, we integrate the use of GPS progressively into the initial training programme. We use scenario-based training so students are required to deal with scenarios using basic navigation methodology, and the GPS is introduced as a supplementary aid as they progress through the syllabus.” Which is nothing more nor less than any other instructor does, with the presumed approval of the CAA.

As a part of their assignment, the students investigated all the pros and cons of using GPS in basic flight training and reviewed overseas training syllabuses. They concluded that the technology was now so pervasive within New Zealand aviation that it would not be beneficial to exclude it from the training curriculum.

In their conclusion to the seminar, the students say: “GPS is the present and the future.”

Mr Poduval says: “They argue the case for pilots to be taught both map reading and GPS skills in an integrated way from the initial stages of flight training, as this would enhance flight safety.

“Yes, basic navigation principles and methods are essential, but introducing legislation that excludes GPS training from the Private Pilot’s Licence syllabus is not going to be helpful, with light aircraft increasingly using this technology.”

Since GPS is ubiquitous in almost every modern mobile phone, vehicle and aeroplane in this country, you’d have thought a forward-looking CAA would not only have recommended the technology and its use as a fundamental part of flight training. You’d expect the Authority’s personnel to have read at least two of the many respected books on the subject, and pressed for Advanced Use of GPS in Aviation to be made a mandatory subject for those with irrefutable proof that they can do sums, can read a printed map, and have an invoice establishing beyond all doubt that they can speak English.