New rule strengthens safeguards for adventure aviation industry

Thursday 13 October 2011, 4:21PM
By Simon Power

Transport Minister Steven Joyce has signed a rule aimed at improving safety in the commercial adventure aviation industry.

“New Zealanders love their extreme sports, and we are a top adventure tourism destination. It is important that we have systems in place to ensure these activities are safe,” says Mr Joyce.

Civil Aviation Rule Part 115: Adventure Aviation – Certification and Operations will introduce a certification system and higher safety standards for commercial tandem skydiving, microlighting, gliding, hot air ballooning and other adventure aviation operations.

“Currently, these areas are regulated by a framework developed for amateur sport and recreational activities, with only pilots and the aircraft bound by Civil Aviation requirements. The new rule brings tight safety controls to each aspect of the businesses, and better reflects the inherent risks in these industries.

“These activities are carrying paying passengers and should be subject to similar safety controls as other aviation businesses, such as small airlines.

“The majority of adventure aviation operators are responsible, with a strong safety focus. But a number of incidents in recent years have made it clear that stronger safeguards are needed.

“This rule will complement regulations for adventure tourism being introduced by the Minister of Labour. Ensuring the safety of this sector protects New Zealand’s reputation as an adventure tourism destination.

“At the same time, this rule will open up the tourism potential for activities such as warbird and microlight flights. Currently, these can’t be operated commercially because there is no applicable regulation.”

Civil Aviation Rule Part 115 comes into effect on 10 November 2011. Enforcement will be staged and the Civil Aviation Authority will guide the industry and ensure compliance. Hot air balloon, tandem hang glider, paraglider and skydiving operators will need to apply for certification within 6 months, microlight operators within 12 months, and gliding operators within 18 months.

Civil Aviation Rule Part 115 is available on the Civil Aviation Authority website at: http://www.caa.govt.nz/rules/nprms_closed.htm