Ice cold in Alex: UA operators get a frosty reception – and the threat of court action
Since we last addressed the Alexandra Restricted Airspace application for UAV testing, there have been some developments. Following a public consultation meeting held on 18 September, and requests from users, the closing date for submissions has been extended to 5 pm on Wednesday 07 Nov.
The public meeting turned into a verbal punch-up, the CAA has refused to release any risk assessment information and now Alexandra aviators are threatening legal action against the proposal. The GAA has made a submission to the CAA opposing the application.
And here’s an alternative idea: Why not concentrate all this UA activity near Rocket Lab’s established area at Mahia in Hawke’s Bay, where there is a fine but hardly-used sealed runway right next to the small service town of Wairoa, a place that’s been in decline for decades?
Unmanned Aircraft: Segregation is not integration, Mr Director
Remember the bad old days of New Zealand’s Next Big Thing? They featured such silly ideas such as farms for ostriches, alpacas or Angora goats, as well as the oft-confused Robert Muldoon’s pipe dreams. Most of these get-rich-quick notions crashed (and burned the investors).
But those days may not be gone.
Our government, and its Ministry of Transport in particular, has latched on to unmanned aircraft (UAs) and they are telling us that this is the Next Big Thing.
Never mind the ostriches… where’s the beef?
Cheaper ADS-B is already on the way – but somewhere else…
CASA in Australia has listened to its aviation community and will be developing rule changes aimed at making it cheaper and easier for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) technology to be voluntarily fitted to visual flight rules aircraft.
Our advice: Unless it’s absolutely necessary, wait until the MoT and the NZ CAA get their act together. Otherwise, you might end up paying expensive and unrecoverable labour costs for installation, only to discover that you could have done it legally, almost – or entirely – on your own.
On radio-active clouds, and living in times past…
GRAFOR, the new MetFlight graphical forecasting service, has been widely welcomed. At last, we have a good visual depiction of what’s likely to happen.
This is infinitely preferable to pages of capitalised abbreviations, the result of a submissive CAA, Airways and MetService obeying ancient ICAO rules, and supported by elistist fogeys who always insisted that, to read the weather, you must learn their arcane language, written more than 50 years ago because of a shortage of paper and a reliance on agonisingly slow teleprinters.
ADS-B: We know the science, but what’s the bottom line?
Anyone following the progress of ADS-B’s introduction to New Zealand will have noticed one Great Big Official Unknown:
How it’s going to be paid for.
Fuel Excise Duty refunds: Time to plan a different route?
For GA pilots who use Mogas, it’s double taxation; and now for Auckland-based pilots, it’s triple taxation. We’re paying fuel excise duty to build roads which our aeroplanes have (we all hope) no chance of using.
Who’s fault is this? Answer: The Ministry of Transport, which six years ago used the Treasury’s mantra of User Pays to impose a $330 medical application fee. The CAA and the ministry were eventually proved faulty on that piece of sophistry.
But, ho hum… User Pays doesn’t apply to duty on petrol because… ahem… that might mean some hard work to fix.
Five years into this issue, and we are not one millimetre forward, thanks to political and public service procrastination and a litany of feeble excuses, ranging from “it’s not a priority” to “we’ve been restructured” and all the way back to square one.
Perhaps it’s time to take a different tack?