No apologies for acting in the public interest, says the CAA

The CAA has now had the opportunity to consider the material presented by the Des Lines and Brian Mackie including their “Overview” document and the results of their “Client Satisfaction” survey.

The CAA welcomes feedback on its performance.  As a responsible state sector entity, the CAA must – and does – operate in an environment of accountability to the public, whose interests it ultimately serves.   We must be open to criticism and feedback, willing to reflect and to do what we can to improve our performance and, in turn, improve safety across all aviation sectors in New Zealand.  We are not a perfect organisation, and we don’t get it right every time.  We need to be open-minded and transparent, and feedback gives us an opportunity to reflect, critique and where possible, improve our performance.

As a result, we have carefully reviewed the material to understand the concerns it raises.  There is much in the documents that is unbalanced, misleading, incomplete or simply wrong.  Many of the issues raised are either historical or have already been addressed in detail. There are, however, a number of themes that we already know present concerns for the general aviation sector.   We will continue to work with the sector to address those concerns.

As the safety regulator, the CAA will sometimes come into conflict with those it regulates; that is both unavoidable and, at times, necessary.  We act in the interests of the wider New Zealand public, which does not always accord exactly with the interests of individuals within the aviation sector, or even parts of the sector.  We make no apology for the hard decisions we take, which are always made in good faith, following a robust process, and based on the evidence available to us.

We will continue to work with the general aviation sector to promote a broader understanding of the role of the CAA as regulator, how we make regulatory decisions, and how CAA and sector can work effectively together.

We do need to address one point, however.  The document implies that the CAA was directly responsible for the self-inflicted deaths of two people we dealt with during the investigation of accidents involving workplace fatalities.  Suicide is a devastating and complex issue.  We would never seek to engage in public discussion about its possible causes particularly without any real knowledge or understanding of either the issue generally, or the circumstances of these individual cases, and out of respect for the families of the deceased.  Accordingly, we do not intend to respond to these offensive allegations that are made without any rational justification.

As a final point, we suggest that a more balanced understanding of the CAA’s relationship with the aviation sector could be achieved by engaging with some of the representative bodies or larger participants in the sector.  Examples would be the NZ Airports Association, the Airline Pilots Association, Air NZ, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Board of Airline Representatives of NZ, Aviation NZ, and the Aviation Federation.

These comments can be attributed to John Kay, Deputy Chief Executive, CAA