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.
Hey, grab some airspace for nothing, and make money
There seems to be an insidious trend towards obtaining the use of public airspace for private commercial gain, with no known dividend to either the public or to aviators who have customary rights to the airspace.
The first hint of trouble came when a North Island enterprise called Incredible Skies unexpectedly won restricted airspace conditions on an enormous area around Hokianga – and then advertised internationally on the web, inviting drone developers to come and test their machines in this scenic spot (presumably, not for free).
Remarkably, they got away with it, not least because the CAA failed to carry out the required consultation with interested parties. Civil Aviation Rule 71.9 requires the Director to consult with affected persons, organisations, and representative groups within the aviation industry, before making a designation or classification of airspace.
But it gets worse…
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?
The global pilot crisis. At last, people are waking up
An additional 640,000 commercial pilots will be needed worldwide over the next 20 years, 40 per cent of them in the Asia Pacific region. This crisis has been forecast for years. Politicians ignored all the warnings, airlines put off the evil day – but in 2018, reality has arrived with a vengeance.
Air New Zealand has announced that it’s working on the issue behind the scenes with the Airline Pilots Association, and there is agreement that trainee pilots need better support and more funding.
Is this just too little, a little too late?