In case of emergency …

The RNZAF recently airlifted a 2.4t shipping container to volcanic White Island, some 50km out from Whakatane, to provide an emergency shelter in case of an eruption.

An NH90 helicopter from Ohakea-based 3 Squadron lifted the 6m container to the island from Whakatane Airport and placed it on an old mining site to provide a natural protective barrier in case of a volcanic eruption. This action helped address what has been a long-standing concern of communities as well as police and emergency management authorities in the Bay of Plenty.

An RNZAF spokesman said, “The airlifting of the container is the latest example of how the NZDF assists our communities and other government agencies, and the task was the latest demonstration of the NH90’s range and lift capacity.”

NH90 captain Flt Lt James Mackenzie said, “It is important to our training that we get to lift large and heavy loads that challenge the range and lift capacity of the NH90. A task like this prepares us to conduct more complex tasks when we go on operations, whether it is humanitarian assistance and disaster relief or stability and support operations. 
“It also gives us another opportunity to operate with personnel from the Army’s 5 Movements Company who assisted in preparing the load.”

A continuously active volcano, White Island is visited by more than 10,000 tourists every year. It fluctuates through periods of increased and reduced activity, last erupting in April.

The container will give people a safe area to go to in the event of a volcanic eruption or an emergency event, and it will also be used to store safety gear, spare clothing, food supplies and emergency and rescue items.

For some time GNS Science, New Zealand Police, other partner agencies and tour operators have been expressing the need to improve the safety of visitors to White Island. The provision of the container is another step towards ensuring these groups are better prepared for an event which may impact visitors...


Drone scare aborts landing

On the night of 17 August the pilot of an Air NZ A320 on final approach to Queenstown Airport and carrying 153 passengers was forced to abort his final approach and fly into the circuit after an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was sighted in the air near the airport runway.

Flight NZ647 from Auckland landed some10min later than scheduled, at 4.35pm, without incident, according to the CAA.

Idiocy apparent in Queenstown

Considerable relief has been felt in the Queenstown and Southern Lakes Region over a positive move in the resolution of the cause of the threatening note that caused a bomb scare at the resort’s airport on 24 July. The note was found on board Qantas flight QF121 from Sydney by a cleaner, after it landed at the airport at 2.14pm.

Detective Matt Jones, in charge of the investigation, says a Queenstown youth has been identified in connection with the matter and referred to Youth Aid. It appears further action may be taken as a result of that referral.

Unpopular plans to tighten rules

Local authorities in the southern districts seem to be focussing on ways to control all forms of aviation in their region.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) is facing strong opposition from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) to a proposed restriction on the number of flights permitted by any aircraft from private airfields in the Queenstown District in general and the Wakatipu Basin in particular.

Under the current district plan, flights are unrestricted from what the plan refers to as “informal airports”. However, in its forthcoming new district plan the QLDC proposes new rules aimed at reducing noise problems for neighbouring residents.

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