GAA forms alliance with NZAIG
The General Aviation Advocacy group has announced an alliance with the New Zealand Aviation Industry Group.
Both organisations say this cooperation is intended to better address issues that affect professional and private participants in the New Zealand general aviation system.
The groups will maintain their freedom of independent action but will work together whenever they agree that all supporters’ interests are best served by united action. This applies to many developments relating to general aviation, since what affects commercial operators often has wider implications for private pilots.
A link has been under discussion for some time, but two recent developments put the concept into clearer focus.
The first was a decision by the New Zealand Aviation Federation (NZAF, whose members include RAANZ, Flying NZ, the SAA and AOPA) to seek loans so that the NZAF could purchase an additional 20 percent shareholding in ASL, the training business of the industry-owned licensing company.
AvNZ, the recently coined trading name of the long-established Aviation Industry Association (AIA), had already admitted that its finances were in ruin due to mismanagement.
The GAA understands, but cannot confirm, that AvNZ was in the red to the tune of about $300,000. It is understood to have garnered about $400,000 from its share sale to NZAF, which borrowed the money from some member associations whose own members in turn financed the loaning parties.
The NZAIG—which was formed by AIA members who were opposed to its much-criticised Aircare safety management programme—asked the GAA to assist in publicising the issue and obtaining some answers to questions.
The second development was the CAA’s decision—rejecting widespread public protest and aviators’ objections—to prosecute a rescue helicopter pilot. This issue is already in the public domain and is now under judicial consideration, since pleas have been entered. No further public comment on the case itself can be made until legal proceedings are concluded. The NZAIG was alone among established organisations in joining with the GAA to protest against the CAA decision to prosecute.
A GAA spokesman says, “It became clear that a louder, more coordinated and independent voice is desirable when dealing with important, GA-related matters—particularly when they are generated by the CAA, Airways and (as is evident) even by officially recognised aviation organisations.
“Since the GAA is not an organisation—it’s an unfunded social network that exists purely because it has supporters—we cannot have a membership vote on this move, although NZAIG members have voted in favour, and supporter feedback to the GAA indicates very strong agreement.”
He says the GAA believes established aviation organisations have failed to make a meaningful impact on the course of GA in New Zealand for many years, despite their high membership costs and claimed close “dialogue” with the CAA in particular.
“On the other hand, the weight of freely expressed opinion on a number of important issues, generated by GAA supporters, has made some real and demonstrable progress, much of it under the radar.”
The NZAIG was formed in 2013 following major industry upheaval as the result of the AIA-driven imposition of its Aircare Safety Management System. The AIA, now AvNZ, was reprimanded and warned by the Commerce Commission over its promotion of Aircare.
The Aircare regime, judged by the Commerce Commission to have been possibly in breach of the Fair Trading Act, adversely affected operators seeking contracts with various agencies. The NZAIG succeeded in rescinding the Aircare accreditation requirement of agencies such as DoC, NZ Fire Service and local councils.
DoC posed by far the greatest threat, considering its control over large tracts of New Zealand. If the threat had not been removed, many operators might now be out of business or saddled with Aircare and its costs.
Support for the unfunded GAA, which was formed early in 2012 initially to oppose dramatic CAA fee increases by laying a complaint before the Regulations Review Committee, is now approaching a registered database of 2000 pilots and aircraft operators.
- Report by Brian Mackie.
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