Dear John. An open letter to the Prime Minister

02 March 2013 / by the GAA team / Consultation, Costs, Governance, Medical

Dear John

I assume you are unaware of the iniquitous attack that your Civil Aviation Authority has made on the pilots of this country, presumably at the bidding of the Director, Graeme Harris, or your Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee.

Before I explain, perhaps I should mention that I was flying in 1958, when Whenuapai was an airport and Mangere was a grass paddock, and have since been involved in several areas of aviation in NZ and elsewhere, in commercial operations and training.

For 55 years, I and all the other local aviators have been paying approved medical examiners to check us out and certify that we are fit for the next renewal period. Fair enough: we want to feel safe, just as do our passengers.

When I called my local AvMed man the other day for a medical certificate renewal, he was embarrassed and saddened to warn me that unless I paid $313 to CAA, I could not have a certificate! This had just recently happened, and I quickly discovered that everyone in the industry was up in arms about it, one even possibly commencing legal action against CAA.

I asked CAA what I would get for my $313, and it turned out that I would get nothing; the plan was simply for the pilots to completely fund the operation of the CAA medical section!

It gets worse.

There is a demand for money and there is a threat if it is not forthcoming. This used to be called “Demanding money with menaces”, and it is now called extortion. Extortion is illegal in every country of the civilised world, and yet someone in Wellington has decided to commit this crime against every pilot in New Zealand! Then, to add insult to injury, they include GST although they have given us no goods and no service!

They might say “This is merely an example of ‘User pays'”, to which we would say “Fair enough” – if we were the users. The fact is that we have never asked for licences or certificates; these are things which have been inflicted on us by the Government. We can fly, do our jobs, and teach the young ones with or without licences and certificates.

We have a culture in aviation by which we experience, and learn, and communicate and teach. We do it safely, because anything else would be ridiculous, and this ethic starts with initial training and goes on all the way through to international airlines.

So why do we have to have licences? Because the passengers, and mail and freight forwarders want some assurance that people will come home and mail and freight will get through. Also fair enough. But they’re the users. We certainly aren’t. We’re just the facilitators. If the Government is not going to fund the operation of the CAA medical section, all it needs to do is levy a little tax on the charter and freight rates and passenger fares. User pays. Simple!

So to sum up, John, we are happy to pay for our medical certificates, and when our examiner signs us as OK, that job is done. There is no need for further interference from this “do nothing” part of CAA. Meanwhile, perhaps you would stop the extortion that CAA is inflicting on us, and return the money they have stolen thus far. Oh, and you could kick the arse of the person who dreamed up this ludicrous, unethical and dishonest scheme.

With thanks,

Kindest regards,

Ian N Butchart (Elderly CPL/A&D Cat.)