Welcome to the General Aviation Advocacy Group of New Zealand

2018 January-February Bulletin

Urgent warning: Meet this amnesty deadline, or face a hefty fine

If you are a commercial or private GA aircraft operator, you need to know right now about the New Zealand CAA’s bizarre behaviour regarding overdue operating reports.

The Authority recently began issuing infringement notices and fines to commercial operators who did not send in their quarterly aircraft operating statistics on time. The fine is $1500 per aircraft.

A number of commercial operators failed to meet the CAA’s deadline. This was, we understand, mainly because (for the first time, and knowingly, and without any widespread warning) the authority did not send out the usual reminder and CAA605 form.

The next target would have been the private operator (for whom the fine is $250 per aircraft). But then it seemed to go badly pear-shaped for the CAA.

That punitive first move generated outrage from commercial operators, the GAA and aviation organisations. They protested about the way the notices and fines had been introduced. What’s this? A $1500 penalty for a paperwork misdemeanor not yet proven by the CAA to be as important to public safety as a parking offence?

Graeme Harris, the CAA Director, told one complainant that the $1500 fine was fixed by the government. What he didn’t say was that his authority wrote the legislation that assessed and suggested the fine – and that he, as CAA Director, was the responsible person who sought and won government approval of it.

The GAA’s position is plain and simple: The Authority’s behaviour was grotesquely unreasonable. Any and all CAA action must be proportional to the regulatory risk.

Now, as a result of many letters and representations, Harris has declared an amnesty until 1 March. Operators have only until then to provide their third and fourth quarter returns. Those who have paid fines will be refunded. But the Director has warned that he will act against anyone who fails to comply with his new and very tight deadline.

The obligation to file aircraft operating statistics is set out in Table 1 of Rule 12.151.

Doesn’t matter if it didn’t fly. You still need to return the form(s)

As well as commercial operators, the operators of New Zealand-registered aircraft issued with a standard category airworthiness certificate or a restricted category airworthiness certificate and used in private operations are required to file a return of their aircraft operating statistics.

We asked Harris if he intended to issue infringement notices and fines to the owners of private aircraft issued with standard or restricted category aircraft who failed to file their annual operating statistics by 1 February.

He did not reply. Instead, he forwarded the letter to his Official Information Act officer; this person has in turn stated that we can expect a reply before or by 15 March, which is somewhat later than Harris’s absurdly short (and apparently unpublicised) new deadline.

[Questions from the GAA to Graeme Harris are now routinely diverted to his OIA officer – even when they clearly warrant and invite the Director’s personal involvement with GA and his substantive response. This indicates an abuse of the intent and function of the OIA. It is a tactic now observed as the common procedure by senior CAA management, to avoid direct and timely answers.]

Private owners required to file an annual return of aircraft operating statistics should do so before March 1. You should also formally request a receipt, and continue to pursue the CAA until you get one. The burden of proof rests on you.

Previous reminder notices also contained the CAA605 reporting form. You can download a copy here.

You must file a separate form for each aircraft, regardless of whether or not it has flown during the previous 12 months.

The Director has written to an operator, stating that “sending out reminders and introducing the ability for operators to provide returns through an online portal are sensible and both are under action.”

We asked Harris why the development of an online portal allowing customers to directly enter their returns into a website, rather than email them at present, is still only “in the early stages of development”. That question (and others about the CAA’s failure to meet his Authority’s other historical promises about the automation of manual tasks) was, yet again, referred to the CAA’s OIA officer.

Here’s a dead microlight. Recreational aircraft aren’t included in NZ CAA operating statistics. Why not?

In its infringement notice, the CAA says: “It is important that the CAA receives this operating and statistical data and information by the due date, as it helps provide CAA with an accurate picture of aviation activity. This in turn provides vital input to determine sector safety performance, which drives efforts to make aviation in New Zealand as safe as possible for everyone”

The GAA says that if the Authority believes such statistical data to be vital to sector safety performance, it is negligent in not also collecting the information from non-certified aircraft owners, such as those of recreational aircraft which now form a significant part of the New Zealand fleet.

Without accurate data from all aircraft operating within the NZ aviation system, the Authority’s analysis of safety related statistical data is severely flawed. To use an old computer adage: “Garbage in equals garbage out.” By not accurately capturing and recording meaningful data, the Authority’s statistics have, for years, been presenting an inaccurate picture of aviation activity and a distorted view of sector safety performance.

Survey update No 4: The CAA is failing to act on voluntary safety reports, say respondents

Disturbing evidence has emerged in Part 4 of the GAA’s independent survey of CAA customers, which focuses on safety. There are a number of claims that the CAA is failing to follow up on voluntary safety reports – as well as indications of a marked reluctance to make such reports.

On voluntary safety reporting, the survey asks:

How likely would you be to make a voluntary safety report (e.g. alert the CAA in the case of non-compliance with regulatory obligations) in situations of material non-compliance with safety regulations?

The score stands at a neutral 5 with respondents recording reservations about the wisdom of submitting a voluntary safety report, in comments such as:

“Until such time as CAA move away from their ‘prosecute first, ask questions later’ approach, who would?”

“Won’t go there because it risks blowing up into a full-on witch hunt.”

“Some years ago, I would have felt obligated to make a report. Today, highly unlikely, and only under extreme circumstances.”

“Absolutely no way would I file a safety report. Who would trust what the CAA might do with it?”

A problem hidden in plain sight: we have too many claims of unanswered safety reports for the CAA to ignore

For those who have filed safety reports, the survey asks how satisfied were you with the response?

The score stands at 3 out of 10. Many comments indicate that some safety reports are not being acknowledged or replied to. Here are a few examples:

“No response to 3 reports. CAA’s own SMS material suggests that it’s vital for an effective reporting system to provide feedback to those who input into it yet they fail to follow what they expect operators to do.”

“Very dissatisfied – my 005 which involved a near collision was ‘lost’ in the system.”

“My CAA005 had no reply and no outcome. My ARC also has had no outcome.”

“Never had any feedback on multiple CAA005 reports.”

The question Would respondents support a TAIC-administered, voluntary incident reporting system that is non-punitive and affords protection to the sources? has generated huge support, with a score of 9.

The survey asks if respondents actively seek opportunities to operate as safely as possible.

A strong safety ethic emerges in comments such as:

“We have four-point harness for all alpine scenic flights to reduce turbulence hazards but Rules only require lap strap.”

“I have a firm and strong commitment to operating safely.”

“Many years of aviation knowledge and experience put me ahead of minimum requirements.”

The survey asks if the CAA seeks to identify and promote best safety practice within the aviation community?

This has drawn a neutral response score of 5 with comments such as:

“CAA doesn’t listen to industry, instead it promotes its own internally developed ideas which usually coincide with the interests of CAA itself.”

“CAA appears to want to alienate rather than work with people in the aviation community. It appears that ‘dobbing-in’ is very much promoted by CAA which has led to back stabbing and an unhealthy environment, therefore not helping with real safety.”

“It definitely used to but with the advent of HSW and CAA’s dual roles I don’t believe this is the case any longer.”

“Think their heart is in the right place but not the brain!”

Are respondents confident that the CAA quickly recognises and promotes new initiatives that do not compromise safety, developed by other countries (for example, medical certification)?

This gets an average score of just 2 out of 10. Comments include:

“They need to recognise that some authorities (FAA and EASA) are better resourced to make good decisions and be prepared to accept them. New Zealand CAA should concentrate on what is unique to us… not much.”

“I have yet to see any initiative that the CAA has begun on their own accord without first there being extensive lobbying over an extended period of time by organisations.”

CVD: One example of snail-paced CAA progress

“No Way! They are SO SLOW and it usually takes about 10 years to get ANY movement. Colour Vision Deficiency is a good example of how evidence-based regulation is hard to get across the line.”

The survey includes a series of questions about the consistency of decision-making by the Authority and individual staff members. None of these questions has attained a score above 3 out of 10. Some sample comments:

“Some admin staff are great, some inspectors, investigators and operation staff can’t agree between themselves.”

“It’s hard to get anyone to make a decision and all too often when asking different staff members for an answer their opinions differ.”

“Many of the CAA decisions are not in accordance with best practice.”

“Seems to me after almost 40 years direct involvement, that the ‘why’ is all about never being held accountable for any decision regardless of what position within CAA a staff member holds.”

Finally, 43% of respondents say that they have been audited in the last two years. The survey asks: How satisfied are you with the way the CAA performs its audit and compliance activities?

Respondents have so far returned a score of 3, along with many comments such as:

“There are so many things wrong with the way auditors do their job. Their manner, lack of knowledge, overcharging for time actually spent on the job, personal interpretations, pettiness, lack of any practicality.”

“Too much inconsistency in what does or does not comply.”

“They put fear into the minds of operators that if they were to question the auditors they would be found to have an attitude problem and not pass their FPP.”

“Audits are undertaken in a manner that is highly questionable, have never (endured over 20 such audits) contributed one iota to safety and the ‘exposition’ just went back on the shelf to collect dust until the next audit.”

“Biggest problem with CAA is lack of staff with practical knowledge. Too many desk jockeys.”

“Authorised, but almost singularly unqualified, and therefore in a position to bully any operator/licence holder to comply with an ‘opinion’ despite the rules being in disagreement with that opinion. That would be a closer assessment of CAA staff.”

Survey update No 3: It’s time to curb the CAA’s medical unit

The current medical system is adversarial and cannot help to get an unbiased result

Reining in the CAA’s medical unit is long overdue, say responders to Part 3 of the GAA’s independent survey of CAA customers.

Seventy percent of responders say they are unaware that the Swedavia and Scott Gorman reports recommended the establishment of an Aviation Medical Panel made up of specialists. The survey goes on to ask: Do you think that an Aviation Medical Panel would be of benefit to participants in the NZ aviation system?

The results are showing an overwhelming response of 92% in favour. Among the comments: “This has been a vital step for years” and “The current system is adversarial and cannot help to get an unbiased result, plus expense is too great to meet ridiculous CAA requirements.”  There are also provisos such as “If genuinely independent and driven by evidence-based principles and practices”.

Part 3 also deals with aviation safety regulations and asks:

How confident are you in your ability to comply with aviation safety regulations relevant to your role?

Responses are giving an average score of 7 out of 10. There are, however, provisos attached with comments such as “this depends on individual CAA interpretations and the increasingly overarching and complex knowledge and responsibilities being applied”.

Across all the questions on aviation regulations, there is a clear and consistent theme in the comments: the problem of individual CAA staff interpretations of regulations.

The survey asks whether responders consider that CAA personnel have a common understanding of regulations and apply rules consistently.

The CAA is scoring 3, with comments such as: “No way – on occasion you can ask two staff members the same question and get two different interpretations” and “It’s a shame that I am not able to score this question with far less than a ‘0’.”

Regulations play a key role in ensuring that I operate safely earns a neutral score of 5, but comments provide an insight into the pragmatic and professional culture among pilots, such as

It is far more important for an individual to take responsibility for operating safely than merely blindly following regulations” and “Not really – common sense – personal and company culture is more important in my view” and “Regulations are a frame in which I operate, but my own self preservation and due care of passengers plays more of a key role in safe operations”.

Asked if the CAA always consults with the most appropriate people in industry when developing or reforming aviation safety regulations, responders deliver less than 3 points. This is further reinforced when people consider if the CAA values their opinion about proposed regulations or regulatory reform. This question is returning a score of just over 2.

What factors would encourage responders to take part in a CAA consultation? A solid 80% say that they would if their contributions were used to bring about genuine change.

Survey update No. 2: The CAA’s service delivery score is a real shocker

Dismal performance levels feature strongly in Part 2 of the GAA’s independent CAA customer survey. This section focuses on service delivery.

The demographics are showing that:

  • 60% of respondents have had direct contact up to 10 times with CAA staff over the last 12 months
  • 10% have had direct contact 10 to 20 times over the last 12 months
  • 10% have had direct contact more than 20 times over the last 12 months and
  • 20% have had no direct contact with the CAA over the last 12 months

And if you don’t express yours, you can’t expect change

The survey asks: On a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is “very dissatisfied”, 5 is “no opinion” and 10 is “very satisfied”, how satisfied are you with the CAA’s service delivery?

At this stage, the CAA’s service delivery is achieving an average score of 3.

Typical comments:

“The CAA’s service delivery from senior managers is very poor with most taking 10 working days to reply to correspondence and some only replying after complaints have been laid. On the other hand, clerical staff are often very good with their service delivery.”

“Too short-staffed and it takes way too long for aircraft to be added to ops specs.”

There are a number of adverse comments regarding delays in the order of three to four months for relatively simple amendments to expositions.

The airworthiness section is also attracting strong criticism, with comments such as:

“From an airworthiness perspective, the current situation frustrates the industry. Relationship between the industry and the regulator is the poorest I have seen in my 50+ years in the industry.”

The withdrawal of CAA staff contact details from the website is drawing a significant number of adverse comments from industry responders.

To the question: “Was your transaction completed at a reasonable cost?” our responders are ranking the CAA at 3.

The survey asks if responders “thinks that the CAA takes care to understand and relate to its customers”. The current response of 3 indicates a widening disconnect between the CAA and GA. This is also evident when participants are asked “if the CAA values my input.” Our responders struggle to give the CAA a score of 3.

Another question:

On a scale of 0 to 10 where 0 is “strongly disagree” and 10 is “strongly agree”, please indicate how much you agree that: “The CAA is vital to ensuring aviation safety in New Zealand

Responders so far give this question a 6, but with several provisos attached to qualify their answers.

On Friday 5 January 2018, the Director issued the exemption, which you can view or download here.

This is the latest success in an ongoing and often arduous GAA campaign to rectify CAA shortcomings and wrong-doing.

Survey update No. 1: It’s looking grim for the CAA

The responses received so far to the GAA-initiated survey of CAA clients have already provided some compelling data and comments. Here, we summarise just a few major trends detected in Part 1 of the survey.

If you don’t express it, nothing changes

We strongly urge everyone to take part in this independent and anonymous survey, which will remain open at least until the end of January.

If you haven’t already done so, please get involved and have your say. It doesn’t take long – initial results indicate that each part is taking an average of around eight minutes.

In Part 1, the survey asks:

On a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is “very poor”, 5 is “no opinion” and 10 is “very good”, please rate the CAA’s services in terms of value for money. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the responses have so far returned an average score of 2.

The survey asks whether CAA clients considered that the Authority strove to minimise administration costs and charges. Respondents have returned an even lower score: just 1.

The survey asks whether participants considered that the CAA was openly accountable for its actions. This question has so far returned an average score of 2.

The survey asks if the CAA builds a relationship of trust. The Authority is scoring 3 out of 10.

The survey asks if New Zealand’s aviation system would benefit from having an independent aviation complaints authority. The answer sits at a resounding 96% vote in favour.

The demographics of survey responders have also been interesting. For example, those who completed Part 1 have come from:

  • Aerial work – 15%
  • Charter – 8%
  • Business – 8%
  • Air Transport – 24%
  • Private – 39%
  • Other – 6%

Question: “How long have you been operating or involved in the aviation sector?” The results so far:

  • More than 40 years – 39%
  • 31 to 40 years – 16%
  • 21 to 30 years – 24%
  • 11 to 20 years – 15%
  • 4 to 10 years – 6%

The success of this GAA survey can be measured by 97% of responders indicating that they are willing to take part in future surveys.

The GAA’s ultimate goal is to achieve change within the CAA, and this critically depends on CAA customers overcoming the notion that “You can’t fight city hall”. There is plenty of evidence that change driven from the grass-roots is not only possible, but probable.

The survey is not difficult to complete and your time spent is a very valuable contribution to overcome an obstinate public service – yes, the people at the CAA are public servants!

In recent years, previous transport ministers have been in denial about the problems that exist within general aviation and have shown little apparent interest in the civil aviation part of their portfolio. This may soon change, because the survey has already produced significant statistics and the final results will be made available to the CAA Board, the Minister of Transport and the Transport Select Committee.

PPLs and the RPL: Yet another wrong has been righted

Back in May 2017, we drew the CAA Director’s attention to the unlawful content within AC61.20, namely that Rule 61.41 did not apply to the Recreational Pilot Licence.

Rule 61.41(b) states that a pilot who meets the currency requirements for a lower pilot licence may exercise the privileges of the lower licence.

The CAA subsequently reconsidered its initial view that the Recreational Pilot Licence is an entirely separate type of aviation document from the ICAO-recognised licences (ATPL, CPL and PPL). As a result, in applying CAR 61.41, holders of ATPL and CPL licences who had paid for the issue of a RPL became entitled to a refund.

In July, the CAA wrote to ATPL and CPL holders advising them that they would be refunded the cost of their RPLs.

Due to Rule 61.41 having been written before the RPL was created, the Rule only referred to the then existing licence types, with the PPL being the lowest licence category. Because of this, Rule 61.41 only applied to holders of a CPL or an ATPL and PPL holders were not entitled to a refund.

In September 2017, the GAA filed a petition for exercise of the Director’s exemption power under s27 of the Civil Aviation Act 1990 to address the anomaly whereby ATPL and CPL holders were able to exercise the privileges of a lower licence but PPL holders could not.

The RPL and the instructor: Did the bureaucrats stuff it up again?

AC 61.20 contains the following note:

“Under rule 61.303, an RPL does not qualify the holder for the issue of a flight instructor rating.

Therefore, a flight instructor rating cannot be endorsed on an RPL.

A person holding a flight instructor rating endorsed on a CPL or ATPL may not exercise the privileges of that instructor rating with a Land Transport (DL9) medical certificate.”

The first part of this note is correct, in that for the issue of a flight instructor rating, a CPL or higher licence must first be held. This is appropriate and demonstrates that a minimum level of experience has been achieved.

But the GAA challenged the bolded statement above and the CAA has conceded that an instructor may exercise the privileges of his/her instructor rating on a PPL or RPL.

Older and wiser heads are being lost because of the CAA’s attitude to common sense, which it values highly and uses sparingly

A flight instructor exercising the privileges of a RPL must be aware of the limitations in Rule 61.357 regarding the size of the aircraft, the type of operation that may be conducted and that the aircraft may not be operated at night or under IFR.

It is equally important to point out that whilst a flight instructor exercising the privileges of a RPL or a PPL cannot receive remuneration when acting as PIC, they may be legitimately remunerated for the ground time they spend with their student or a pilot on whom they are carrying out a proficiency test.

This would normally include the time spent on a pre-flight briefing before an exercise, pre-flight inspection of the aircraft and post-flight analysis of the training exercise or a flight check such as a BFR. The time spent on the ground will often exceed that spent in the air and it is appropriate that a flight instructor be remunerated for his/her time if he/she so wishes. Not all instructors may wish to make a charge for their time. Some may prefer to carry out training or checking on a pro bono basis as a way of giving something back to the GA sector, in the same way that some lawyers volunteer their time and expertise on a similar pro bono basis.

In contrast to Rule 61.357, the UK CAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) permit the remuneration of a flight instructor who is using the privileges of a PPL.

The UK CAA and EASA recognise the value of allowing flight instructors who are unable to meet the Class 1 medical certification to continue to pass down their knowledge and skills.

The present situation in New Zealand has resulted in flight instructors who have been unable to meet Class 1 medical certification dropping out of our system because it has not generally been recognised that they could continue on Class 2 medical certification, using the privileges of a lower licence, albeit without remuneration when acting as PIC.

The considerable flight experience of instructors, often accumulated over a great many years, is a resource that the New Zealand GA sector can ill-afford to lose. This comes at a time when many of our young instructors are just “passing through” the flight training establishments and are primarily using flight instruction as a way to build hours before moving on to an airline.

On Friday 5 January 2018, the Director issued the exemption, which you can view or download here.

This is the latest success in an ongoing and often arduous GAA campaign to rectify CAA shortcomings and wrong-doing.

Medical certificate reform: Is our regulator deaf, dumb and blind?

On 30 November 2017, CASA announced major reforms to the aviation medical certification system. Importantly, pilots flying commercial operations with no passengers – such as flying training and aerial agriculture – will now be able to do so on the basis of an unrestricted Class 2 medical certificate.

These reforms to the Australian aviation medical system maintain appropriate safety standards while offering flexibility and reducing red tape.

This is something which NZ CAA Chairman Nigel Gould has stated the Authority is committed to. We have seen no evidence of it happening, but we are watching.




A worrying picture of systemic inconsistency at the CAA

Inconsistent actions and conflicting demands by Civil Aviation Authority officials are causing confusion and stress, wasting time and costing the CAA and its customers thousands of dollars, says a report.

In a 5000-word document sent to CAA Director Graeme Harris, exposition-writing consultants Walter Wagtendonk and Ian Wood highlight – and reject – the behaviour of some CAA personnel who assess Air Operator Certification applications and Safety Management Systems.

The report reveals:

  • Questionable interpretation of Rules
  • Discrepancies in requirements and assessments by one official versus others
  • Wasteful comments and demands “that can only be described as nitpicking”
  • Tendency of some officials to enforce their own opinions
  • Disregard for the need to use scaling when dealing with small operators.

One inspector disputed the use of only odd numbers in an exposition’s paragraphs, saying it would confuse readers – despite the fact that the authors were correctly following the CAA’s own numbering convention when it writes Civil Aviation Rules.

Do we need steps to refuel this?

Another objected to a Flight and Duty time scheme, saying it was incorrect with regard to night operations – despite the fact that the applicant company operates only during the day, under Visual Flight Rules.

The report lists numerous occasions where one inspector’s assessment differed from another’s. One official made three adverse comments in his critique of ‘Becoming aware of a hazard’, while another noted “Very good” on the same text.

Some demands are described by Wagtendonk and Wood as “How long is a piece of string?” Others are said to be impracticable and indicating unfamiliarity with the most basic knowledge of aviation.

They say CAA officials are wasting everyone’s time with silly questions such as how a fuel tank dipstick is to be used, should steps be specified for fuelling a low-wing light aircraft, and whether ‘must’ should be used instead of ‘may’.

“The associated CAA fees at the rate of almost $300 an hour are a waste of money,” the report says.

There is evidence that officials are enforcing their own opinions. In one absurd incident, a CAA employee demanded the removal of “Chief Engineer” from a flowchart textbox, which could have led to an unworkable maintenance situation for the operator.

Dipstick question: How do you use it?

In another, a husband and wife company operating one helicopter had their training syllabus rejected and replaced with demands that were “excessive and totally beyond the requirements”. But an identical training syllabus had been approved without query for another small operator only weeks earlier.

The authors say: “On a number of occasions, the CAA has stressed the need for scaling when designing SMS for small operators. As consultant writers, we have tried to comply with that logic; but instead of simplification, most of the CAA officials we have dealt with presented us with numerous items that added to the expositions.

“There is a need for inspectors to realise that we are not dealing with Boeing 747s on intercontinental operations. The vast majority are two- and three-person operations where communication is an everyday occurrence, where training doesn’t have to match intricate airline and IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) aspects, where change is discussed and agreed upon without having to spell it out in detail and where supervision by the CEO or Operations Manager is part of daily habit.”

The report says there is sufficient evidence to show that the CAA needs to improve staff compliance with its own rules and operating principles.

If the examples had applied to GA operators, they would have been designated as ‘findings’ during audits and if non-compliance was ongoing, the AOC would be withdrawn (as recently evidenced by a number of grounded companies).

“The report has identified a number of failures which, in many instances, can be put down to lack of supervision by senior management and the apparent freedom for lower-level officials to express personal opinions and interpretations, and insist on compliance with them.

“The best response would be an acceptance of the need to rein in those officials who are over-zealous in their critiques or make demands that far outstrip those applicable to small organisations. It must be ensured they thoroughly understand the meaning of ‘scaling’. This requires firm control by management. If that is not forthcoming, the outlook for cooperation and progress is bleak.”

The General Aviation Advocacy Group says there must be ‘One CAA’; in this case a single, unequivocal policy giving compliance direction in every aspect of AOCs and SMS. There is no place for a plethora of personal opinions from CAA employees dictating what they believe will achieve compliance.

To download the full report, please click here

This article was first published in a November 2017 GAA bulletin

2017 December Bulletin

The ‘Empty-skies-are-safe-skies’ policy is killing Aussie aviation

(and New Zealand has the same symptoms)

By DICK SMITH in The Australian, 28 December 2017

I don’t think you should ever regard aviation safety as what is affordable. — Australian Federal transport minister John Anderson, October 5, 2000

Dick Smith – I have been warning for years that introducing regulations that ignore cost have been crippling the industry…

I welcome the appointment of Barnaby Joyce as Australia’s new Transport Minister. He certainly has a challenge in front of him when it comes to Australia’s general aviation industry, which is in a state of near collapse after years of failed government policy.

It will take someone as senior as the Deputy Prime Minister to sort out this mess. As The Australian has reported, general aviation — so vital in a big country like ours — is in serious trouble. Crippled by skyrocketing regulatory costs and pointless red tape, businesses are closing and much of the flying training industry is being sold off to Chinese buyers at bargain rates. A federal government report last week showed the drastic decline brought on by the excessive costs: general aviation flying hours, which include the vital flying training industry, have declined by 40 per cent in just five years.

But none of this is new. I have been warning for years that introducing regulations that ignore cost have been crippling the industry. It was 17 years ago that I ­became involved in a very public disagreement with Joyce’s predecessor, John Anderson, who introduced the ­policies that have resulted in today’s mess.

At the time, I was chairman of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and I warned Anderson that the substantial additional costs that had been placed on the industry by the sell-off of the airports and the “user pays” air traffic ­control system would have to be balanced by a reduction in other costs.

Driven by bureaucrats with little understanding of business, he pursued a policy of regulations ­regardless of cost, with the inevitable result that ridiculous levels of regulation have made it im­possible to maintain a viable industry. It seems that for the bureaucrats, the safest skies are empty skies, similar to the Yes Minister episode about the hospital with no patients.

Anderson refused to meet me to discuss the issue, releasing a public statement that showed how little he understood. “I don’t think that you should ever regard aviation safety as what is affordable,” he claimed. “Safety is something which has the highest priority — it is not a question of cost.”

In effect he was saying that with air safety there was no cost that was too high to pay, ignoring the fact this would make the cost of air tickets unaffordable to anyone other than the ultra-wealthy.

Anderson’s public statement was quickly embraced by the ­bureaucrats within CASA and the denial that cost should be considered became an almost cult-like ­belief that still exists in that organisation to this day.

Former NZ Transport Minister Simon Bridges: he also had an entrenched public service and he also was in denial. Will his successor be any better?

Aviation is like anything else in life. The amount of money that you can spend on safety is always limited by what the marketplace can afford. If regulations are written that increase the cost of flying too much, people can’t afford to fly and businesses go broke.

The inevitable result of this stubborn insistence that there are no limits to the costs that could be imposed on the aviation industry is a situation where operators simply can’t afford to meet the red tape and expenses.

It has done nothing to improve safety and will very likely lead to a situation where most pilots in Australia will come from Asia. The losers are many of Joyce’s constituents in rural and regional Australia who rely greatly on general aviation as a vital link in Australia’s transport systems.

It means we will lose hundreds of millions of dollars in export earnings from flight training and other operations that are no longer Australian-owned.

Before Anderson became minister, the CASA service charter ­directed that Australia should ­follow “proven safe procedures and standards from leading aviation countries which best allocate finite safety resources, to protect fare-paying passengers and ­encourage high participation levels in aviation”.

But this directive was removed from the charter in the Anderson years. I fought these changes while chairman of CASA but failed to overcome an entrenched public service and a transport minister in denial. I resigned rather than be held responsible for the slow death of an industry that I have been a part of for more than 40 years.

I hope now that under a new minister we can get back to a sensible policy that balances costs and regulation in a rational way.

Joyce will need to move quickly to reverse the disastrous “ignore cost” policies of the past. I will give him every support and I do hope he listens to the industry before it is too late.

  • There are further signs of crisis in Australia, where visa restrictions on foreign pilots are set to be relaxed because of a looming crew shortage, and Chinese airlines are said to be poaching pilots with offers of salaries up to $750,000. Read about it here.
  • Dick Smith is the former chairman of Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

The independent CAA Customer Satisfaction Survey is under way

The General Aviation Advocacy Group has launched an independent survey of CAA customer satisfaction. This is the first comprehensive opinion poll of NZ CAA clients since 2003.

If you don’t express yours, you can’t influence theirs

When the CAA learned the results of its 2003 survey, the bureaucrats were not happy. Customers were so critical of the authority that the exercise was never repeated. The CAA has always refused to consider it, rejecting requests from the GAA and others.

In 2010, the CAA was dealt another blow by the Martin Jenkins Value for Money Report, which identified persistent failings. Since then, no one – high or low – has managed to extract any detailed information from the CAA about what has been done to improve its performance.

The authority is apparently planning a series of surveys, none of which measure overall customer satisfaction. The first, about CAA communications, was virtually unpublicised. The GAA discovered it by accident. It asked, amongst other things, if users would like the CAA to use Facebook or Twitter.

No fit and proper person in aviation would rely on Facebook or Twitter for serious or in-depth messages from (or to) the CAA. And the authority would find it impossible to communicate all but the briefest of messages through Twitter, because of its severely limited character count.

In an annual report, the CAA states that it spent $40,000 on one small Colmar Brunton survey.

GAA volunteers are running a far more sophisticated and comprehensive survey, for about $400.

The Independent Client Satisfaction Survey of the NZ Civil Aviation Authority is modelled on the CAA’s 2003 survey, updated to reflect changes in aviation (as well as other surveys including those by CASA, our neighbouring Australian authority).

It is in four parts and covers:

  • How customers feel about their relationship with the CAA, its charges, and how complaints might be better handled
  • Service delivery and the CAA’s dialogue with aviation system participants
  • The development and reform of aviation regulations, compliance with regulations, and medical issues
  • Best practice, consistency of decision-making, safety reporting and audits

Each part contains about 30 questions.

Here are the links:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

The survey is anonymous. No one taking part will be tracked or recorded. Many participants in the New Zealand aviation system are very afraid of the Civil Aviation Authority. We have taken great care to protect them and encourage freedom of expression.

The results will be presented to the CAA board and management, the Minister of Transport, Parliament’s Transport and Infrastructure Select Committee, other decision-makers and the media.

One question missing from the survey is: Should the CAA run regular customer satisfaction surveys?

If enough people involved in New Zealand General Aviation take part in this sector-generated survey, the CAA will get the answer – and the broader message.

Please help to send that message.

Thank you for supporting the GAA team in 2017. We send our best wishes to you and yours for Christmas and 2018. It promises to be an unusually interesting year for everyone in NZ’s GA.

Major improvements to the aviation medical system – but not ours…

Kiwis are at the end of the Earth, in more ways than one…

Thousands of pilots in Australia are set to benefit from major reforms to the aviation medical certificate system.

They go much further than our CAA’s proposals in a recent medical survey.

The reforms by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) include creating a new category of private pilot medical certificate, allowing non-passenger-carrying commercial operations under a full Class 2 medical certificate and increasing the delegation of decision-making to medical professionals.

The new medical certificate category, to be known as a basic Class 2, will be available to private pilots flying piston engine-powered aircraft carrying up to five non-fare-paying passengers. Operations will be limited to daytime visual flight rules and will be permitted in all classes of airspace.

This basic Class 2 medical certificate will require an assessment by a doctor using the Austroads commercial vehicle driver standards. General practitioners will be able to carry out assessments.

The commercial vehicle medical standards currently apply to drivers of heavy vehicles, public passenger vehicles and vehicles carrying bulk dangerous goods. They cover medical issues such as cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, psychiatric conditions, blackouts, substance abuse and vision and hearing disorders.

The new basic Class 2 medical will be valid for a maximum of five years up to the age of 40 and a maximum of two years above the age of 40.

The current unrestricted Class 2 medical certificate will remain in place for private pilots operating aircraft up to 8618 kg with a maximum of nine non-fare-paying passengers. This unrestricted Class 2 medical will be used under all flight rules and allow for operations in all classes of airspace.

Importantly, pilots flying commercial operations with no passengers – such as flying training and aerial agriculture – will now be able to do so on the basis of an unrestricted Class 2 medical certificate. Previously, these operations required the pilot to hold a Class 1 medical certificate.

CASA’s CEO and Director of Aviation Safety, Shane Carmody, said the reforms to the aviation medical system maintain appropriate safety standards while offering flexibility and less red tape.

“CASA has been engaged with the aviation community and made a series of fundamental reforms to aviation medical certification,” Mr Carmody said. “We have initially focused on changes that benefit general aviation because this sector has been telling us the current medical certification system was causing real difficulties.

“In the interests of public safety, it is important that pilots meet relevant medical standards but the system must not make unnecessary demands and should meet the needs of the aviation community.

“I am pleased we are making changes that will see more appropriate medical standards applied to flying training and aerial agriculture – two vital sectors of Australian aviation.

“CASA will now continue to review the aviation medical system to identify possible improvements in areas such as using medical data more effectively, further streamlining processes, further reducing CASA involvement in medicals and harmonising with global best practices.

“It is CASA’s role to maintain appropriate aviation safety standards, but the requirements must not unnecessarily burden Australian aviation and hinder development and growth.”

The reforms to aviation medical certification will be progressively introduced during 2018.

e-Licensing becomes a reality for commercial pilots, but not ours…

Once registered with an account, pilots will be able to track the progress of their application, view the privileges they hold and have the ability to update personal details such as a change of address. The new e-Licensing will also benefit flight training schools, allowing them submit course completion details online and apply on behalf of their students.

Commercial pilots will need to create an online account to access CAA licensing services. However, individuals are advised to wait until they need to make a transaction before setting up an account. More information can be found on the dedicated e-licensing webpage at caa.co.uk/elicensing.

Sorry, folks. This no-brainer improvement, based on old technology, is apparently unavailable in New Zealand.

Drones: Tests for UK operators – and programming the beast to behave itself

Picture by Jakob Owens – Unsplash

Drone users in the UK may have to take safety awareness tests under legislation planned by the government.

The move has been welcomed by the British Airline Pilots Association, which has warned of near misses involving drones and aircraft. Balpa said there had been 81 incidents in the UK this year – up from 71 in 2016 and 29 in 2015.

A proposed Bill would force owners of drones weighing more than 250g to register and sit a test.

Drone pilot and trainer Elliott Corke said most recreational and commercial-purpose drones weigh more than 250g.

Christian Struwe of drone-maker DJI warned that some of the proposals may be difficult to police – for example the 400ft height restriction. But he told the BBC Breakfast programme: “The good thing is that as an industry we are already working on it. We can limit how high they can fly.”

We also understand that manufacturers can program ‘geo-fencing’ into their drones to make it impossible for them to fly within airspaces identified by the on-board GPS, such as airfields, other areas used by low-flying aircraft, and prisons.

The $11.10 triumph: It was like drawing blood from a stone

Scrooge would have admired the NZ CAA

As a result of the GAA’s challenge to the wording of AC61-20 Rev 7, we secured refunds for CPL and ATPL holders who wished to exercise the privileges stated in CAR 61.41 and had previously been required to apply (and pay) for a Recreational Pilot Licence.

But we also sought a refund of the $11.10 NZTA fee, which was part of the Fit and Proper Person declaration. At first, the CAA wanted proof of payment, but we objected to that because the charging error was the authority’s and the onus was on the CAA to rectify the matter using its own records. A CAA official sniffily told us we would have to visit the authority’s website to discover what it had decided about this.

Then the CAA seemed to recognise its rudeness and wrote again, saying:

CAA is prepared to reimburse that sum to affected RPL holders without proof of payment being required. To identify eligibility, CAA will be reviewing each individual’s file. Please note that the LTSA fee of $11.10 has only been in place since 01 June 2011 so anyone obtaining a report prior to this date would not have incurred any cost.

Reimbursements will be processed as soon as possible in the upcoming weeks to all those who have responded to their letters.

Admittedly a small monetary win, but it’s the principle that matters.

Oh, and restoring some degree of courtesy…

The current situation regarding PPL holders

The GAA has also been pursuing the issue of an “anomaly” in CAR 61.41 which prevents PPL holders from exercising the privileges of a lower licence – the RPL. The CAA had told us:

We have discussed the content of your letter at some length and while agreeing that the current wording of Part 61.41 creates an anomaly we cannot change that in the AC as the Rule overrides the AC. We will be making it clear in the AC that in its current state the Rule only applies to ATPL and CPL. However, we are in the process of submitting an issue assessment recommendation to address this anomaly. Part 61.41 is prescriptive and will require a Rule change to allow PPL to be treated in the same manner as ATPL and CPL hence the need for this issues assessment. We encourage you to submit a request for a Rules issue assessment of Part 61.41 to add weight to the process.

Please note that we cannot confirm the implied intent of Part 61.41(b) as the Rules are made by the Minister under section 14A(d) of the Civil Aviation Act therefore the intent is the Minister’s not the Authority’s.

After that, we submitted a request for a Rules issue assessment. This process will take some considerable time (probably years), due to other assessments that are ahead of ours.

As a stopgap measure, we petitioned the Director to exercise his exemption power under s37 of the Civil Aviation Act. At first, he refused, until we showed him evidence of his having signed an exemption in similar circumstances. We’re looking forward to Graeme Harris’s decision.

AC61-18 and D Cats and third-level instruments

There is a continuing CAA tendency to use third-level instruments to wrongly manipulate regulations, rules and other legislation. This bad behaviour was recognised long ago, in the Swedavia-McGregor Report.

In AC 61-18, the authority purports to decree that rule 61.307 (h) does not apply to Category D flight instructor ratings.

It also claims that the holder of a Category A or B flight instructor rating who is not current may not exercise the privileges associated with a Category D flight instructor rating as a matter of right.

CAR 61.307 (h) is plain and simple. There is no rule that prohibits the holder of a Category A or B flight instructor rating from exercising Rule 61.307 (h) as of right. There is no legal requirement for a Category A or B flight instructor to apply for a Category D flight instructor rating whether or not they are current in the higher rating, provided they meet the currency requirements of the lower rating and otherwise comply with the rules.

Neither an AC nor the Director hold any power to negate the rules. They can only be issued and revoked by the Minister or the Governor-General.

The authority’s claim that CAR 61.307 (h) does not include the Category D flight instructor rating and that this is a separate rating, not a lower category, is not merely creative.

It is unlawful.

Clearly, a Category D flight instructor rating is a lower rating than Category A and B flight instructor ratings.

We brought this error to the CAA’s attention at the beginning of September, and waited so long for a reply from its legal section that we had to file yet another complaint for a breach of the CAA’s Service Charter.

The discussion continues…

AC 61-20 Revision 8

Having revealed to the CAA its unlawful content of AC61-20 Version 7, we then discovered that it had failed to correct all the rule errors in Version 8. In particular, its note on page 6:

Notes: Under rule 61.303, an RPL does not qualify the holder for the issue of a flight instructor rating. Therefore, a flight instructor rating cannot be endorsed on an RPL. A person holding a flight instructor rating endorsed on a CPL or ATPL may not exercise the privileges of that instructor rating with a Land Transport (DL9) medical certificate.

So we told the authority that Rule 61.303 sets out the eligibility requirements for the issue of instructor ratings and explained:

Clearly, this eligibility requirement is set to ensure that the applicant for the issue of an instructor rating has met a given level of aviation knowledge and piloting skill. However, there is no rule that restricts the exercise of an instructor rating on a lower licence provided the operation meets all the requirements of that lower licence and the instructor rating. We have already demonstrated that a CPL or ATPL holders may exercise the privileges of a lower licence.

For example, a B Cat Instructor may exercise the instructor rating on the privileges of a PPL provided he/she meets all the requirements of currency for both the rating and the licence. This would include, in part, meeting the requirements of 61.307 (d).

In another example, a holder of a D Cat Instructor rating or an A or B Cat Instructor exercising the privileges of a D Cat under CAR 61.307 (h) may issue type ratings in accordance with the excessive restrictions of CAR 61.37. There is nothing in CAR 61.37, which prohibits the exerciser of those privileges from giving instruction. (ref CAR 61.37).

Whilst an instructor rating cannot be issued on a RPL, the holder of a CPL or ATPL lifetime licence holding an instructor rating and exercising the privileges of the PPL or RPL already has the rating endorsed on the appropriate licence. In this case, there is no physical PPL or RPL to endorse with an instructor rating.

The appropriate instructor rating will be endorsed on the licence-holder’s ATPL or CPL.

We’re told that this is also being considered by the authority’s legal section.

Meanwhile, it makes you wonder, doesn’t it?  To us, these CARs are – by definition – prescriptive.

Audio and video use as evidence

We’ve been made aware of a pending prosecution against a pilot that we believe has serious implications for general aviators as well as professional pilots.

It involves a pilot who is being prosecuted for events that occurred on a cross-country flight during which the aircraft encountered unforecast bad weather.

The evidence that the CAA is principally relying on stems from audio and video material recorded by a young student pilot, during a training flight. The student used a GoPro camera fitted inside the cockpit, and a separate audio recording device.

The lawyer acting for the pilot believes that cockpit audio and video recordings are inadmissible in any criminal proceedings in New Zealand, against any pilot. There is Court of Appeal support for this, following the 1990s Dash 8 crash on approach to Palmerston North, with no other court decision to the contrary.

The CAA view

The CAA takes the view that this exclusion of audio and video recordings applies only if TAIC is investigating and that it is free to use such audio and visual evidence in prosecuting a pilot, where the CAA or the police have investigated and not TAIC. The pilot’s lawyer is of the view this opinion was not supported by the Court of Appeal decision. Also, when the TAIC Amendment Bill was passed through Parliament to prohibit CVRs being used in criminal proceedings against pilots, the Hansard records of the third reading of the Bill when enacted did not support the CAA’s opinion either. We understand the CAA has used this type of evidence in other prosecutions and, if not challenged, will continue to do so.

The entire issue needs to be considered and ruled upon.

The implications for GA pilots and operators

You never know who’s watching…

If the CAA is successful in securing the admissibility of cockpit audio and video recordings in cases other than a TAIC investigation, the implications for GA pilots are obvious.

Since the 1990s, when the TAIC Amendment Bill was introduced in respect to dedicated aircraft CVRs, rapid and probably unforeseen advances in technology have resulted in a proliferation of pseudo-CVRs in the form of GoPro-style cameras, iPads, smartphones and the like.

A recording taken by a co-pilot or student pilot, or even a passenger within close proximity to the cockpit on a smart device or camera can now be taken out of context, and used to bring prosecution action against a pilot. These devices, with their monocular depth perception and limited field of vision, will often portray an inaccurate view of what a pilot is actually encountering and weather conditions in particular may look worse than what was actually experienced.

The CAA could use such recordings in a prosecution against a GA pilot, unless a ruling is made that they are totally inadmissible against all pilots, regardless of who investigates.

The CAA has applied to the District Court to have the video and audio evidence admitted against the pilot. The pilot is therefore in the position of either having to accept that the CAA can use that evidence, or defend it. If the CAA loses in the District Court, it is likely to appeal, as any ruling prohibiting the authority from using such information obviously has ongoing implications in future CAA investigations. That has serious cost implications for the accused pilot, who cannot afford to fight this alone. A ballpark forecast of costs to argue the matter in the District Court alone is about $15,000.

The matter is due to be heard in the District Court on 14 November. At this time, the pilot does not have sufficient funds to meet the estimated costs of fighting this legal challenge, and if unable to do so, it may be left to the Judge to decide and rule on the admissibility point with the CAA lawyers appearing and making submissions, and potentially no one appearing to argue against them.

We need to recognise, as a community of aviators, that what the accused is confronting has wider implications for the rest of us. This is why we are looking for support from fellow pilots and operators prepared to assist in the funding to obtain a definitive judicial ruling on the admissibility of these recordings as evidence in criminal proceedings against all pilots.

To enable contributions, a bank account has been set up:

ASB, Victoria Road, Devonport

The account name is GA Advocacy Fund

The account number is 12-3065-0148085-02

All funds collected will be applied to fighting this legal admissibility issue alone. Should the pilot subsequently have to go to court to answer to the substantive charge, the pilot will have to ultimately decide on what course to take, and will bear any costs of that.

If for any reason there is a surplus of funds after this admissibility issue is resolved, we would ask you to contribute on the basis that a record of all contributors will be kept and all contributors will be surveyed as to how the General Aviation Advocacy Group should apply any surplus funds.

We urge you to consider making even a small donation to assist in this important legal challenge.

A proposal to challenge the new CAA levies

By now, operators will have received a letter and information booklet from the CAA detailing the new safety levies that will take effect from 1 July 2017. These levies have been introduced despite efforts by a number of individuals and organisations to enlighten the CAA and Minister of Transport of the failings in the consultation process, as well as the inequities in the methodology adopted.

Immediate financial implications

The levies will be introduced across two financial years (2017-2018 and 2018-2019) with 50% of the full rate payable in the first year and 100% payable in the second year and beyond. For the purposes of analysis, this article is based upon the full levy rate payable and ignores the first year’s sugar-coated Trojan horse.

Certificated operators will no longer be charged at an hourly rate by the CAA for routine inspections and monitoring. They will instead be levied at varying rates as outlined in the following table:

Sector Full levy rate
Part 115 – Parachuting $1.60 per descent
Part 121/125 – Passenger Air Transport $5.50 per flight hour
Part 135 – Passenger Air Transport $6.50 per flight hour
Part 137 – Agricultural Operations 0-10,000 tonnes per annum $0.87 per tonne
10,000 – 50,000 tonnes per annum $0.73 per tonne
50,000+ tonnes per annum $0.65 per tonne
Part 121/125/129/135 –
Freight Only
0-10,000 tonnes per annum $3.00 per tonne
10,000 – 50,000 tonnes per annum $2.60 per tonne
50,000+ tonnes per annum $2.00 per tonne


Apply the above figures to your operation to determine how much you will pay the CAA under this new levies regime. Compare this to how much you currently pay annually for routine audits and this will tell you whether you are immediately better or worse off.

The longer term consequences

These are numerous. A couple of the more obvious consequences are the loss to industry of the mechanism whereby demonstrated safety performance was financially rewarded via an increased audit interval and a corresponding reduction in CAA charges; and the fact that in moving away from an hourly rate-based method of cost recovery, the CAA has skilfully managed to put itself in a position where its operating costs can’t easily be compared with other similar organisations or government agencies.

Of far more significance, however, is the fact that throughout the process of setting these levies, the CAA was very clear that its objective was to more closely match the revenue recovered from each sector of industry with the expenditure it incurs in regulating that sector. This all sounds very nice as a concept, but an analysis of the CAA’s current sector-by-sector costs and budgeted future expenditure shows what full cost recovery might look like, and the ramifications for commercial general aviation become immediately apparent:

  • Regulating commercial general aviation accounts for 23% of the CAA’s total expenditure.
  • The CAA’s budgeted total expenditure for FY2019 is $42.818m.
  • This means that the CAA’s expenditure on the regulation of commercial general aviation will be 23% of $42.818m, which equals $9.848m.
  • Deducted from this is the CAA’s projected revenue from other sources (for example, fees and hourly rate charges) of $1.637m, which leaves $8.211m to be recovered from commercial general aviation by way of levy.
Sector Historic percentage of total cost of commercial general aviation audit oversight Share of $8.211m to be recovered if 100% cost recovery principles applied Levy rate required to achieve 100% cost recovery
Part 115 – Parachuting 11.3% $927,843 $11.94 per descent
Part 121/125 – Passenger Air Transport 11.6% $ 952,476 $25.15 per flight hour
Part 135 – Passenger Air Transport 25.4% $ 2,085,594 $29.78 per flight hour
Part 137 – Agricultural Operations 34.7% $ 2,849,217 $3.99 per tonne
Part 121/125/129/135 – Freight Only 17.0% $ 1,395,870 $13.75 per tonne
TOTAL 100.0% $ 8,211,000


In terms of the way the Government sets fees and charges, there is nothing to prevent the CAA moving to a 100% cost recovery methodology. You will be able to assess the impact on your business, but it doesn’t take rocket science to also imagine the implications for the entire commercial general aviation sector.

Can this be challenged?

Yes it can. Four avenues have so far been identified through which various aspects of this levy can be subjected to scrutiny. These range from the veracity of the consultation process, through to the selective targeting of the levy, its longer term implications, and compliance with government guidelines and the Civil Aviation Act itself.

This isn’t going to be an easy process. It will involve significant research and analysis coupled with engagement in the political arena to maximise the chances of success. Any such challenge needs to be mounted now, before the levies are cemented in place.

The estimated cost to mount a credible challenge will be around $20,000.

The next step

If you have any questions, or would like to support the effort to overturn this parasitic threat to the future livelihood of commercial general aviation, please contact Qwilton Biel.

Phone:           (027) 493 5655

Email:            qwilton [at] biel [dot] nz

Client Satisfaction Surveys in a post-factual world…

The CAA is either living in a fools’ paradise and thinks all its customers are happy, or it is deeply afraid to ask them. We can’t think of any other reason why the CAA refuses to hire a neutral organisation and tell it go to the customers and ask some honest questions. We also have convincing proof that no company or organisation can rely on anything other than an independent monitoring of its customers.

Here’s why…

In January this year, we wrote to the Chairman of the CAA Board pointing out that the Authority engaged Colmar Brunton to undertake a client satisfaction survey in 1995 and 1998; five years later in 2003, the same research company carried out a similar survey. Since then, there have been no further CAA Client Satisfaction Surveys specifically targeting all CAA document holders. The 2003 survey’s results did not heap praise upon the CAA.

In his reply, the Chairman said:

“Your interest in surveys is topical as the CAA will shortly be repeating its flagship ‘Feel Safe’ survey conducted by Colmar Brunton. Management are currently planning on supplementing the survey, or even splitting its content, so that while retaining its prior focus on the CAA’s ultimate customer (the public) it also provides more information from the aviation sector”.

OK, it’s costing you $4.50 a minute. But do have a problem with me?

The Colmar Brunton “Feel Safe” surveys have typically only contained results from 300 to 400 respondents. We have written to the Chairman and asked that all CAA document holders be made aware of his planned consumer survey. But we reminded Mr Gould that this is just a consumer survey, and what is actually required is a CAA document-holder survey related to specific client issues, and promoted via the CAA’s email user database and Vector magazine.

Post-audit or inspection feedback to the CAA

In our letter to the Chairman, we pointed out that MoBIE has for many years operated a system in which, after every investigation, an inspector is required to send a client satisfaction survey to all parties involved. Something similar would be a valuable tool for the CAA Director for feedback about, to quote just one example, the knowledge and performance of auditors and the way they interact with aircraft operators and aircraft maintenance facilities. A client feedback system also provides useful information to senior managers of departments to gauge the performance of individual staff members as part of their yearly performance reviews.

The Chairman said:

“… at the end of each audit or inspection, the CAA already surveys the parties involved in order to gather information on their views on the effectiveness and efficiency of the regulatory intervention they have just been involved in. While that provides limited information about the performance of one regulatory function, we are interested in gathering a broader range of views to inform risk management and decision-making. Both the management and Board of the Authority recognize the importance of such information from the sector to inform our planning and improvement efforts. In part, this is one of the reasons we place so much importance on the relationship with representative bodies like the Aviation Community Advisory Group.”

We then sought to verify what the Chairman had claimed was correct – “the CAA already surveys the parties involved in order to gather information on their views on the effectiveness and efficiency of the regulatory intervention they have just been involved in”.

We asked a number of operators if what the Chairman claimed (or had been told by his officials) actually happened in practice.

  1. Did the Chairman’s statement have validity?
  1. Did operators feel comfortable providing feedback to the CAA when their AOC is at stake?

We believe the replies below speak for themselves, and we’d welcome further comments.

  • No, I’m not aware of any statement like that. Imagine if an operator criticised them at that point, they could be deemed not fit or proper and their AOC withdrawn or delayed when the auditors got back to Wellington. Yes there is a discussion, but who would dare to complain? It proves how out of touch the Chairman is.
  • I never had the auditors ask me how the audit went or what I thought of CAA. If you wanted a good audit report you would never consider expressing your thoughts on that issue. Ask the Chairman for some of the recorded comments.
  • No, I haven’t been asked for feedback (that’s not to say I haven’t given verbal feedback to auditors at a subsequent audit however!).
  • I am not aware of any formal feedback system. At one point during an audit, I found I was being asked the same questions at each audit such as “Is your fax number still xxxxxxxxx. Is your mailing address still xxxxxxxxx. Is your phone number still xxxxxxxx. When I’m paying over $4.50 PER MINUTE for CAA to ask me the same questions at each audit to which there was no change, I wasn’t happy. I suggested they send me an A4 sheet with those questions on it prior to the audit and I could go through and tick the boxes, thus saving valuable minutes. They thought that was a great idea but nothing was done.
  • I have never been asked at all, fair to say I have offered my opinion on a number of occasions regarding their efficiency levels, no one has ever asked me for it tho and I have undergone approx 25 audits over the years.
  • The last CAA audit that I went through was about 2 years ago for our former Part 145 maintenance organisation. There was certainly a discussion on how we viewed the conduct of the audit but our responses were very much along the lines of what you would expect of “the regulated” talking to “the regulator”. No matter how the CAA Chairman might like to dress it up, it is extremely difficult to get anyone whose livelihood relies on holding an aviation document to be critical (no matter how well intentioned or constructive) of the organisation that issues said document.
  • I am in full agreement for the auditing process to be outsourced, what a great idea, at least if this happened there would be no favoritisms by the auditors. It’s imperative that all operators record* audits.  In that way it keeps the auditors honest and semi under control.
  • Yes this is an interesting subject and I totally agree with the other comments.  After last year’s audit we received a survey, which I filled out with my own feelings regarding CAA.  But I then thought it wasn’t a good idea to return it as it may have been held against me.  So I never posted it. I am certain that industry is running scared of CAA and feel that there are “bully” tactics going on. CAA is determined to change the aviation industry to make it highly regulated to cover their own arses.  Hence industry is finding this hard to come to terms with.
  • A further point about commenting on audit skills etc is as long as they are sitting at your table you are paying for that time.  You want them in and out of your place as soon as possible so the audit doesn’t cost you an absolute fortune.  So no, we wouldn’t think there would be anyone out there brave enough to criticise the CAA openly and in front of the auditors, as it would make their lives a misery.

The Chairman also said:

“On the information theme, please note that management is also introducing a ‘balanced scorecard’ to improve the information available on organisational performance. While not yet complete, over the next 12 months you can expect to see information being sought from the sector and others to inform the assessment of matters of regulatory effectiveness, efficiency and regulatory burden”.

  • Record, in this context, means to “tape record”. The GAA recommends that all important dialogue you have with CAA personnel –  on your premises, over the telephone or at the CAA’s office – should be recorded on audio and/or video. Before making any recording, you should advise your intentions to the CAA personnel, ensure they agree to an uncensored recording and offer to provide them with a copy of it.

CAA Notices – The tentacles of regulation just keep growing longer

In mid-February, the CAA announced its intention to publish CAA Notices as a means of ensuring that “the regulatory framework remains responsive and adaptable to change.”

On the surface, these objectives almost appear noble. But when we peel back the layers, what emerges is a worrying erosion of the checks and balances that have underpinned aviation rule-making since the early 1990s.

A CAA Notice will be a mandatory stipulation of requirements and must be complied with. It will be reinforced by a rule, but the notice itself will be issued by the CAA rather than going through the rule-making process.

Parliament did not vote for this

When concerns were raised about the advent of CAA Notices without any consultation, the response from CAA management was that there is no proposal to consult on the concept of Notices because these are currently permitted under Section 28(5) of the Act.

Section 28(5) was inserted into the Civil Aviation Act in 2010 and does confer certain powers to impose requirements or conditions; however, some seven years later, the CAA is being somewhat cute in its interpretation of how far the law-makers (Parliament) intended these powers to extend.

One of the positives of our system of government is that it keeps records, and these very clearly show that:

  • In recommending amendment of the Civil Aviation Act to Cabinet, the Minister sought to grant the Director power to determine technical matters such as testing equipment, syllabi and examinations
  • Cabinet agreed to amend the Civil Aviation Act to provide for rules that delegate to the Director the power to determine technical matters, such as testing equipment, syllabi, and examinations
  • When introducing the amendments to Parliament for debate, the Associate Minister highlighted them as being about the power of the Director to determine technical matters under the Civil Aviation Rules.

Parliament intended the granting of powers to determine technical matters in a narrow range of areas. It never intended the establishment of a process where the CAA becomes the risk-definer, the solution-chooser, the rule-maker and the law-enforcer.

This entire CAA Notices concept is a flossed-up attempt by the regulator to twist the intent of the law-makers in order to extend its tentacles and shield itself from the scrutiny of its masters. Aviators will not have recourse to the MoT or Minister regarding the content of CAA Notices.

Rather than looking for mechanisms to increase its powers and subvert the checks and balances that exist, the CAA should be focusing on getting rules and rule amendments right the first time so that they progress through the existing process in a timely manner.

CAA funding review: Political leadership is now essential

Since our update last month, we’ve achieved much greater clarity around a few things:

  • The Minister of Transport, Simon Bridges, is still waiting for the final Cabinet paper and Regulatory Impact Statement on proposed charges.
  • He believes that these two papers are months away, not weeks.
  • He has given an undertaking that the Chairman of the Board will respond to our letter calling for independent and open and transparent analysis of the Regulatory Impact Statement, but told us that he doesn’t think such transparency is necessary.

So what does this all mean?

It is by no means certain that the new levies and other changes will occur in November as planned. This triennial review of charges is already running at least 12 months late. Some say that if there is no decision on changes before the end of the year, it will be very difficult to impose them until after the election.

We are quite happy with (and support) a number of the CAA’s proposed changes. We oppose only one of them: the proliferation of new levies on commercial general aviation. All the others are either unequivocally supported or backed with some reservations about their consistency with the user pays philosophy.

The GAA is opposed to the introduction of new levies because:

  • They are unfair and unjust – some sectors, notably GA commercial, will have to pay for audit and surveillance through the proposed new levy, while all other groups get this service for free.
  • Commercial GA will have to pay for educational, safety investigation/prosecution and safety promotion and implementation of rules under the levy arrangements, while all other sectors have these activities paid for by the levy on passengers.
  • Safety in commercial GA is highly vulnerable to increased costs – a recent statement by the CAA’s Deputy Director responsible for GA confirms this point, saying a recent survey of more than 600 helicopter pilots has shown cost-consciousness was a major safety issue for the group.
  • The CAA doesn’t need the money. It is extraordinarily well resourced, reporting reserves of more than $5m in the 2015 financial year.
  • Obedience to Treasury and Audit office guidelines for charging in the public sector is leading to an internationally uncompetitive industry, with the CAA’s hourly rate significantly in excess of the UK or Australia.
  • Levies are like taxes – they only increase. When the aviation industry is expanding, the CAA over-recovers – and if there is a a shortfall, charges are increased with government approval.

Last time, the CAA had some justification for a rate hike but on this occasion there should be only one recommendation and that is to reduce present charges because the Authority is rolling in money.

And that’s why the Regulatory Impact Statement is so critical.

Simon Bridges: Time for some serious attention

Simon Bridges: Time for some serious attention

If you get this high-level analysis wrong, things go really pear-shaped. We are surprised that the Government doesn’t see the RIS as a key part of managing its political risk – and there is significant risk if the analysis is wrong.

We know through our network that the hourly rate charges are doing a lot of damage. There is a commitment out there to bring in new equipment and technologies, but exorbitant CAA costs are having an impact. New Zealand is simply not always getting the best kit because CAA charges can be as high as $60k per aircraft and these charges must be paid up-front, before the aircraft is productive. So we get new aircraft, but perhaps not always with the best technology and safety benefits.

At no time did officials tell ministers that this would be one of the downside consequences.

We cannot understand why Simon Bridges is so quick to rule out any engagement with the industry on developing the RIS.  The CAA clearly understands (or has allegedly been told as much by an astounding 600 helicopter pilots in what appears to be a private survey) that commercial pressures are substantial in the sector.

So why aren’t the Ministry of Transport and CAA open to engaging independent and informed advice on the issue? This is the best way of managing the political risk.

Aviation safety is not some esoteric flight of fantasy by number-crunchers in gold-plated towers with water views. It is a very practical matter to which we all contribute, so why won’t Wellington officialdom accept we should have input into this critical paper? We have nothing to hide.

I am disappointed that, despite Minister Bridges’ commitment, the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority has chosen not to respond to my letter of mid-July on the RIS issue. Now I do know that The CAA’s apparent position is that it has made recommendations to the Minister, and that’s it. However, it also appears that the CAA is still having major input into the development of the RIS Why wouldn’t CAA want to put the best possible advice to the Ministry?

At the behest of the Auckland National Party MPs, we filed a formal complaint via Andrew Bayly, MP for Hunua. Its content has not yet been widely circulated, but we’ve done some more work on the impacts of all the changes proposed and concluded that the new levels of cross-subsidy are larger than the current ones.

The GAA believes that the Authority’s underlying strategy is aimed at taking our focus off its exorbitant hourly rates, and the escalation to a 100% cost recovery hourly rate of $466 per hour plus GST.

The real issue is benchmarking CAA charges so that they are internationally competitive. This would mean hourly rates of between $150 and $190 per hour and a medical application fee of no more than $80. Forget the Treasury and Audit Office guidelines; this is about making New Zealand’s aviation industry as attractive as possible, and that means safe and cost-competitive.

Our message to you: It’s really important to keep talking to your local MP, because sooner or later Minister Bridges will make a recommendation to his Cabinet colleagues.

Our message to Simon Bridges: It really is time to seriously consider and discuss our sector’s competitiveness, and that requires accountability and leadership.


♦ If your experience with the CAA – on any issue – has been disappointing, don’t keep it to yourself and them. Please share it with fellow aviators. Email admin [at] caa [dot] gen [dot] nz. Your privacy is assured.

Health and Safety: The plain truth

There are dozens of hazards, in flight and on the ground...

There are dozens of hazards, in flight and on the ground… Picture by Helicopterphotos.net

If you believe that H&S is a load of rubbish, give me five minutes to change your mind. It might save your skin – or a fortune in legal costs.

Health and Safety aims to reduce the risk of injury or death. You may grizzle about how officialdom tries to do this, but bottom line, it makes sense to avoid injury or death, or wrecking your valuable aircraft.

I have read the H&S Act 2015 and realised that preventing harm is the responsibility of the business operator. The Act requires operators to do all in their power to assess the risks or hazards associated with the business and eliminate, isolate or minimise them.

Erecting a sign that says “Watch your step” is not always sufficient to prevent people from tripping up. It’s your responsibility to remove the potential danger. If you can prove that removal of the hazard is impossible, then it’s my understanding that the sign would have been the most reasonable step. This is consistent with Section 22 of the Act which states:

In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, reasonably practicable, in relation to a duty of a PCBU [ person conducting a business or undertaking]set out in subpart 2 of Part 2, means that which is, or was, at a particular time, reasonably able to be done in relation to ensuring health and safety, taking into account and weighing up all relevant matters, including—

  1. a) the likelihood of the hazard or the risk concerned occurring; and
  2. b) the degree of harm that might result from the hazard or risk; and
  3. c) what the person concerned knows, or ought reasonably to know, about—
  4. the hazard or risk; and
  5. ways of eliminating or minimising the risk; and
  6. d) the availability and suitability of ways to eliminate or minimise the risk; and
  7. e) after assessing the extent of the risk and the available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, the cost associated with available ways of eliminating or minimising the risk, including whether the cost is grossly disproportionate to the risk.

Applying this to an aviation business, there are dozens of hazards in flight and on the ground in support of flight operations.   The “in-flight hazards” are easy to prevent if you comply with the law. All commercial operations need an Air Operator Certificate which will only be issued if you have shown adequate means by which you can and will comply with the CAA Act and associated Rules. In many cases, this involves an exposition which you can write yourself or get a contractor to do it. If you make sure that all your flight operations are in accordance with the exposition, you should be safe from the H&S Act.

Simple as that – but easier said than done. Too often we rush and forget things, for example, failed to enter a SARTIME in the flight plan, or busloads of passengers drop in and you haven’t time to weigh all the “heavies” and the investigation after a mishap shows your C of G was outside limits. You’re in the gun.

With fare-paying passengers on board, you reckon you can short-cut through a saddle with 50 feet or so to spare below the cloud base. You’re in the gun again because you just broke the visual flight rules. If you end up in the trees and hurt people, you’ll rue the day. Might even cost you your bank balance and your business. And for what? Saving a few minutes?

The fact is that if you breach the law and someone gets hurt, the H&S Act will bite you. Remember, you and the aircraft are the hazard and the judge will hold you responsible. The choice is: give up the business or operate within the law.

Essentially, H&S is all about caring. So how do we care?

“She’ll be right” is out and consideration for your own safety and that of others is in.   Don’t do anything that has the potential to cause harm. Think things through and comply with the standards that are in place. Compared to many industries, aviation is fortunate in having procedures, drills and rules based on experience that make it relatively easy to perform safely and to avoid harm. Abide by them rather than improvise.

If you perform a task within the constraints of the applicable laws, rules and procedures, you stand a good chance of avoiding a conviction under the H&S Act if something untoward caused harm and you’d done your best to avoid it. The Court decides whether an offence has been committed, not the CAA or OSH, which are tasked with investigation and prosecution. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to predict a court’s decision.

So work backwards. Look at your business and the way it’s run; then imagine standing in the dock wondering how you could have avoided being there. In plain terms, cover your butt – which is not all that difficult if you work in accordance with the exposition based on CAA Rules (e.g. Part 119), Standard Operating Procedures and Health & Safety procedures. And then insist that all personnel conform and monitor their compliance.

Some operators are quite capable of writing all three documents but many are not. The latter can contract a number of exposition writers who will customise manuals for them; some include H&S procedures.

Reasonably practicable care can be achieved but it comes at the cost of constraints that can be time-consuming and frustrating. This applies particularly to long-established operators who have relied on their own safe and effective practices for years and want to be left alone to do their thing. Sadly, times have changed. Management is now held responsible for the safe conduct of the business and failure to carry out their responsibilities can result in closure, as well as hefty fines and/or incarceration.

If you breach the law and someone gets hurt, the H&S Act will bite you

If you breach the law and someone gets hurt, the H&S Act will bite you

Staff are similarly saddled with responsibilities that may be quite alien to them. The position of Safety Manager is critical in the organisation and for large operators this can normally be filled by a full-time qualified person.   Small operators often don’t have that option but it’s acceptable for the CEO or Operations Manager to hold the position provided the person is thoroughly familiar with the H&S concept and can provide effective supervision on a daily basis.

Staff must accept the principle of strict compliance with procedures and duties that are part of the operation and understand that they are responsible not only for their own health and safety but also that of others. Management and staff must be open to constructive criticism, suggestions and recommendations.   Feedback and effective communication are essential.

Just in case you consider yourself badly done by, H&S rules are far more stringent in many other countries. My niece in France says that her domestic helper must wear a safety helmet if she needs to use a small ladder to clean the windows. It’s the way the world is moving and the quicker we all get used to the constraints, the better.

A fundamental fear is that the “opposition” might grab your work if you believe that a job can’t safely be done today. With everyone affected by the H&S Act, including your clients, it shouldn’t be too difficult to convince them that, like them, you have to work under the Act. We’re all in the same boat and only a fool will disregard the consequences that have driven quite a few people to distraction.

What to do? Write H&S procedures and measures that are most likely to convince a judge that you have taken reasonable steps to prevent injury or death that may have occurred in association with your business. If you feel that’s difficult, there are people who can assist you. Within the next few years, the CAA SMS will be in place and that includes Health & Safety. So the effort you put in now for H&S won’t be wasted when the time comes for you or your contractor to write an SMS exposition.

If I were still operating an aviation business, my screams would have been the loudest about the seeming nonsense and extra work associated with H&S. But in the end, I would have had enough sense to calm down, look at it, consider the consequences of non-compliance, write the required procedures and make sure every staff member complies. The Chinese have a saying for it: “Bend with the wind”.

Re-reading this article, it looks as though I’m advertising for the CAA, me of all people. I haven’t changed really but feel that most of us don’t see the risk of non-compliance; some operators have already been badly hurt and my effort here aims to stop that from happening to you.

Ag pilot competency checks: CAA leaves a mess in its wake

CAA - the fox in charge of the henhouse

CAA – the fox is in charge of the henhouse

The CAA is clearly in difficulties over its plans to reform the testing regime for agricultural pilots, particularly since the GAA pointed out that much of the proposed reform was not practical – particularly for the single-seat, single-control fixed-wing aircraft. Yes, it may be “legal” using the subtle differences in interpretation between a “passenger”, a“crew member” and a “required crew member”.

However, legality does not necessarily translate into a safe operation.

There are serious Health and Safety implications in the CAA’s proposals. Protests from the ag operators have highlighted the hazards. The CAA has adroitly passed the health and safety issues back to the operators and made them responsible for mitigating the dangers.

Because some of the single-control aircraft do not have a specific reference in their operating limitation pages of their flight manuals (a single-control Fletcher aircraft has only a placard on the panel, for example), the CAA says that the manufacturers do not specifically prohibit the carriage of a person in the jump seat during actual agricultural operations. However, a GA 200C Fatman, for example, does have a specific reference in the limitations pages to the fact that the passenger seat must not be occupied during agricultural operations and therefore an E Cat or a flight examiner may not be legally carried in that seat.

To mitigate the risks of restricted control movement caused by the person occupying the passenger seat during actual agricultural operations, the CAA has passed that responsibilty over to the PIC to ensure he has full and free control movement before takeoff. Whether this control check adequately takes into account the person in the passenger seat shifting his pre-takeoff seated position during a critical phase of flight, such as the low level reversal turns at the end of a spray or topdressing run, is open to conjecture.

As a result of submissions regarding the difficulties in complying with AC 61-15, the CAA has modified its stance and now permits ground observations of Ag competency checks in single-control, single-seat aircraft, provided they are backed up with high resolution video footage taken from within the cockpit.

The CAA is delegated to manage the new Health and Safety Act in the sphere of aviation. We question how the CAA can be expected to carry out an independent investigation of its own ACs and AMCs when it is, in effect, the fox in charge of the henhouse.

Ag pilots – a tiny and easily identifiable group for the CAA – were never individually consulted when the Authority issued its first AC about flight testing.

The Authority’s latest Advisory Circular is now up to Revision 5.

Of course, all this nonsense could have been avoided by proper consultation.

The General Manager GA has told us that there is no requirement for the CAA to consult on the addition of an AMC (Acceptable Means of Compliance) to an AC, although it may disclose and discuss the AMC informally but not necessarily with all interested parties.

However, the parties most affected by the Rule and the first version of the AC were the single-seat, single-control, fixed-wing Ag pilots – and they were not specifically consulted. We ask the obvious question: “How hard would that have been?”

We say that the way the Authority handles ACs and AMCs amounts to regulation by stealth, there being no compulsory requirement to consult with all interested parties – leaving the CAA at liberty to advise hand-picked groups claiming to represent the industry.


♦ If you have written to the CAA – on any subject – don’t just keep it to yourself and them. You can share it with fellow aviators by sending it to the GAA as well. Email to admin [at] caa [dot] gen [dot] nz


The future for our CVD pilots: GD Review Panel’s findings, in black and white

"...much evidence was presented to support the view that most CVD in pilots is not likely to be of aeromedical significance"

“…much evidence was presented to support the view that most CVD in pilots is not likely to be of aeromedical significance”

The full report of the Colour Vision Deficiency General Direction Review Panel runs to 87 pages. In the interests of brevity, we have condensed it to three A4 pages. Fifty-nine written submissions were received in response to the consultation process. Of these, 15 were from aviation groups and the remaining 44 from individuals.

The Principal Medical Officer, Dr Dougal Watson, also provided the panel with a PowerPoint presentation. In answer to a question regarding the reasoning behind the proposed flight restrictions for a pilot who is CVD, he said that the “restrictions are historical”. This was a key issue for the panel, particularly in relation to the risk posed by a pilot with CVD, the different operational environments pilots operate in and who should be determining restrictions under which a pilot is to operate.

The PMO also said that he thought practical flight tests are unreliable.

But in the panel’s now-released opinion, a flight examination has the same status as a medical examination in ensuring that a pilot is not a threat to the public and renewing their privileges to fly. Here are the key points in the panel’s report:

Part 6 – Conclusions

  1. The colour vision status of those holding a medical certificate issued under CAR Part 67 needs to be known, just as other aspects of the physical status of pilots is known; e.g. other aspects of vision, hearing and mental health status. If routine screening or non-routine examination (including a practical test) acceptable to the Director can be passed, then the CVD is not of aeromedical significance.
  2. The promulgation of a GD for colour vision is appropriate to provide certainty, clarity and consistency.
  3. CVD is a potential safety threat although there is difficulty in establishing exactly what the threat is. In this respect, the guidance provided by ICAO is not helpful. The ICAO Manual of Civil Aviation Medicine admits that there is very little information which shows the real, practical implications of colour vision defects on aviation safety. ICAO standards for colour vision pre-date many advances in aviation technology and flight safety, which raises doubt over the validity of many of the traditional reasons for imposing restrictions on a CVD pilot and calls into question what is and is not of aeromedical significance. The situation is compounded by inconsistent standards being applied by different states and by the same state over time.
  4. Advances in aviation, technology and training mean greater emphasis can be placed on interpreting information rather than simply the recognition of colours if this is not essential to the operation. These advances, and the additional safety they bring to aviation in general, are such that relaxing CVD requirements will likely not impact on safety. No evidence or compelling argument was presented to the panel that related perceived aeromedical significance of CVD to known or proven threats to flight safety. On the contrary, much evidence was presented to support the view that most CVD in pilots is not likely to be of aeromedical significance. Similarly, the accumulated hours flown by pilots around the world, especially in Australia, suggests CVD pilots are likely to pose no greater safety risk than a non-CVD pilot.
  5. There is a lack of evidence to support the proposed medical certificate restrictions, and the proposed restrictions do not reflect risks posed by CVD in the context of modern aviation.
  6. Any restrictions imposed on a pilot with a CVD condition must be applied on the basis of an identifiable threat to safety or risk. The question as to whether or not a condition is of aeromedical significance, and hence the level of risk, is dependent on the operational context; the type and nature of the operation; type of aircraft; and crew composition. What may be significant for one situation may not be for another. The variability is too great to be dealt with by generalised restrictions as proposed in the GD.
  7. There is no strong link between the office-based examination of CVD and real world realities. Under the proposed GD, the assessment of interferes with or likely to interfere with is ascertained from office-based assessments only. This assessment cannot be made from office-based tests only and can only be determined by an in-flight practical test. While aviation medicine and flight operations specialists will need to be involved in the development of protocols for in-flight testing, only a flight examiner or flight instructor will be in a position to assess the ability of a pilot with a CVD condition to operate an aircraft safely. Thus the effect that a CVD condition will have on the ability of a pilot to safely exercise the privileges of a licence is a flight operations issue, not a medical issue.
  8. The CAD test appears to be the best office-based occupational test available and it is appropriate that it is added to the list of acceptable non-routine examinations. Overall though, the GD appears to be too limited in acceptable non-routine tests and while the GD suggests other tests may be acceptable to the Director, AC67-1 does not reflect this.
  9. Consistency in standards and restrictions with other states, particularly Australia, is desirable; however it is more appropriate to direct any initiatives in this respect to ICAO to progress.
  10. A three-tier testing regime which includes an in-flight test is a more appropriate method than the proposed GD to assess colour vision and to determine the ability of a candidate to safely exercise the privileges or the safe performance of the duties to which the relevant medical certificate relates. Such a regime would maintain New Zealand’s compliance with ICAO requirements in this respect and will identify the operational risks of CVD. The three tiers are:
  • Stage 1 – Initial Routine Screening. The current screening proposed by the GD using the Ishihara test using the pass criteria as proposed in the GD.
  • Stage 2 – Non-routine office-based examination. Should an applicant not pass routine screening, non-routine office-based examinations are conducted to establish the nature and severity of the condition. If any test is passed, then the condition can be deemed as not of aeromedical significance.
  • Stage 3 – Practical test. Should it be necessary, a specifically tailored flight assessment or simulator exercise is conducted to determine the ability of the candidate to safely operate an aircraft.
  1. It is appropriate that Stage 2 and 3 testing is conducted through the AMC process, including the ability for a candidate to forego non-routine examinations and accept restrictions based on the initial screening results.
  2. Any restrictions placed on a candidate’s certificate must be based on the context of the individual’s circumstances; the nature and severity of the condition, and the intended operation

Part 7 – Recommendations

  1. The CVD GD Review Panel recommends that the Director proceed with the General Direction – Impaired Colour Vision with the following changes:
  2. Review the GD with respect to acceptable non-routine office based examinations to ensure other tests currently in use by other ICAO regulatory authorities are included as acceptable tests.
  3. Introduce the CAD test as proposed.
  4. Include a practical flight test to the examination procedure as a third stage following initial screening and non-routine examination so that a candidate may demonstrate their ability to operate an aircraft safely.
  5. Ensure that certificate endorsements, including the need for any ongoing tests should a CVD condition be deemed to be of aeromedical significance, are based on input from both medical and operational staff and are related to the individual’s particular situation with respect to condition and operational context, and noting that only an in-flight test can assess the ability of a pilot with a CVD condition to operate an aircraft safely.
  6. Develop appropriate protocols, procedures and guidance to ensure the practical test is appropriate to the nature and severity of an applicant’s CVD condition and the context of the candidate’s intended operation and the identifiable risk that the candidate poses.
  7. The Review Panel further recommends that the Director conducts further evaluation into the colour perception needs of air traffic controllers.

The bottom line.

This report does not reflect CAA policy and simply provides guidance to the Director. We will need to wait until the PMO provides his report to the Director. A final decision on what process the CAA will adopt is not expected until November.