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The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter.

New Zealand News

Air links from NZ to Angola on the radar

The New Zealand Herald’s Aviation, tourism and energy writer Grant Bradley reported that flights between New Zealand and China are set to significantly increase this year with the signing of new air services deals.

From a limit of seven a week just five years ago, nearly 60 flights now go in both directions, and Transport Minister Simon Bridges hopes this will soon increase to 70.

This would allow more flights, primarily by Chinese carriers, but he said Air New Zealand could expand its services too.

Myanmar and Angola have also asked to start formal negotiations.

Although air services agreements do not guarantee flights will start, they are required by international conventions and provide the foundations for services between countries. Such agreements are largely responsible for the big surge in travel by New Zealanders. The number of Kiwis travelling overseas has risen fivefold in the past 38 years to more than 1.1 million a year.

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Australasian aviation lobby group appoints new Boss

In late July, Fairfax reported that Pharmaceutical Society of Australia executive director of policy, advocacy and innovation Alison Roberts has been named the first boss of Airlines for Australia and New Zealand (A4ANZ).

A4NZ was set up in March as a collaboration between Air New Zealand and rival airlines Qantas, Jetstar, Virgin Australia, TigerAir Australia and Regional Express (Rex).

The trans-Tasman aviation lobby group was formed to tackle issues including the fees and facilities at airports.

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Black box for light aircraft

Radio New Zealand’s Eric Frykberg reported that light aircraft look likely to be fitted with a small scale version of an airliner's black box.

The Civil Aviation Authority favours the idea, as does the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, but some legal issues remain to be resolved.

A plane's black box has multiple recording devices inside a fortified container and, once recovered from a crash site, can provide invaluable information on what caused an accident.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission called for similar recorders to be installed in light aircraft last year.

Queenstown aviation pioneer Louisa Patterson, whose son died in a helicopter crash in 2015, has developed a version smaller than those used in jets - about the size of a pocket camera.

"It is a high definition video mounted in the cockpit," she said. "It will show you the instrument panel around a scope of 160 degrees and will have audio input.

"It is called the 'Eye in the Sky' for obvious reasons. They say a picture is worth a thousand words but a video is priceless and that is what this is."

Ms Patterson hoped devices like this would make it easier to understand crashes and make aviation safer.

Her business partner Tom McCready, a former air accident inspector, said the technology might improve the imprecise business of accident investigations.

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Family challenge Robinson Helicopter Co crash claims

The New Zealand Herald reported that the frustrated family of a young man who died while in a Robinson helicopter lashed out at the company's safety boss at this year’s Aviation New Zealand conference.

Robinson Helicopter Company director of flight safety Bob Muse was in Hamilton to address safety concerns around its helicopters – the R22 and R44.

Among those killed in recent years were trainee pilot James Patterson-Gardner, 18, and senior instructor Steven Combe during a mast bump in a Robinson R44 helicopter in February 2015. Mast bumping is when the inboard end of a main rotor blade contacts the main rotor drive shaft (the mast).

All mast-bump accidents in New Zealand in the past 10 years and all fatal mast-bump crashes in the past 25 years involved Robinson helicopters, according to Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data.

Muse told the conference the figures around helicopter crashes needed to be kept in proportion, and argued just as many crashes were occurring involving other brands.

Using CAA crash statistics relating to accidents between 2000 and 2017, he said the AS350 had 34 accidents and six fatalities compared with its R44, which had 43 accidents and six fatalities, and the R22, which had 95 accidents and six fatalities.

He claimed a large number of the accidents were due to pilots exceeding the limitations of the aircraft and went through local examples of crashes where this had occurred.

The solution was training and education and nothing to do with a problem with the rotor some groups felt was not designed for New Zealand conditions, he said.

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