From November 14, by decree of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (and, as always, in the interests of safety), general aviators’ weather forecasts will be more difficult to decode. The use of actual place names (or their abbreviations) in SIGMETs is henceforth banned, to be replaced by latitude and longitude references.
Presiding over this latest imposition of potty rules created by aliens are the usual NZ CAA suspects, Peter Lechner and Mike Haines, to whom all complaints should be referred.
This is yet another example of CAA personnel slavishly following the ICAO Guide for Blind Dogs. A good deal of what ICAO emits seems to be based on the notion that “if it ain’t broke, fetch a bigger sledgehammer”.
But perhaps the regulation was originally intended to reduce the potential for confusion amongst aircrew on international flights.
For example, there is a clear and distinct risk that an Indian pilot visiting New Zealand could endanger himself or herself, the aircraft and its passengers by misinterpreting Hokitika as meaning Fish Curry.
And the recent schizophrenic, oh-so-politically-correct decision to give our main islands two Maori names in addition to the easily-understood-in-any-language North and South will not have helped navigators from foreign parts. Seasoned Kiwi aviators know very well that these two islands are differently shaped and are easily distinguishable.
The extension of an ICAO rule to cover all internal flights in a nation so far removed from the rest of the world is, to put it mildly, laughable.
♦ If you’d assumed that ICAO rules are written in concrete and are unchangeable, we’ve discovered a possible get-out for Messrs Lechner and Haines, should they (as we fervently hope and pray) suffer widespread scorn and ridicule:
Notification of Differences to Standards and Recommended Practices
Article 38 of the Convention requires, where a State finds it impracticable to comply in all respects with a standard, or to bring its own regulations or practices into full accord with a standard, that notification be given to ICAO.
Such notification is referred to as a “difference” and is published by ICAO in Supplements to each Annex.
Contracting States are also required by Annex 15 to publish their differences in their Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP).
We say that this change makes it less practicable for New Zealand-based general aviators to clearly understand a SIGMET as published on MetFlight, where it is also stated:
NOTE: MetFlight GA is designed and produced only for use by recreational pilots conducting VFR or IFR recreational flights, at or below 10,000ft in New Zealand. The use of the MetFlight GA service for commercial operations (including scheduled or unscheduled Air Transport Operations), is strictly prohibited.
In this and other respects, New Zealand differs from ICAO’s global template.