Independent review recommends no change in the current level of air traffic control for Invercargill

A three month review of the controlled airspace around Invercargill’s airport has concluded that there should be no change to the current levels of Air Traffic Control.

General Manager of Invercargill Airport Ltd, Nigel Finnerty, said the comprehensive study was undertaken by Astral Aviation Consultants in association with Melbourne based R2A Due Diligence Engineers & Risk Assessors. ‘We sought the best professional advice in order to understand what level of Air Traffic management would be required in the future,’ he said.

‘The review recommended that the current level of air traffic control will deliver the safest outcomes to aviation users at Invercargill Airport. It clearly supports no change to the current delivery model and further, states that relying on pilot self-separation, even if enhanced with other technological options, will deliver a less safe aeronautical operation.’

Mr Finnerty said Airways Corporation NZ had said in May last year that they were going to withdraw Air Traffic Control (ATC) services or airfield flight information services from seven airports, including Invercargill, across New Zealand.

At the time, no date had been set for the service withdrawal. As a result, and taking into consideration the significance of the proposed withdrawal and its potential impact on the safe operations at the airport, a formal ‘Aeronautical Study’ was required.

This was in accordance with the current aviation rules, Mr Finnerty said.

The review was comprehensive and looked at the complexity and use of the airspace as well as providing recommendations for the level of Air Traffic Management that should be used to ensure aviation operations were safe for all aircraft.

The study team had engaged with as many of the airport’s stakeholders as possible to gauge their views on how air space around the airport should be managed safely in the future.

The Chair of the Invercargill Airport Ltd Board Grant Lilly said the Board had carefully and fully considered the report and agreed fully with its recommendations.

He said that the report and its recommendations had been passed to the Civil Aviation Authority for their review and final decision on the level of future Air Traffic Management at Invercargill.

The CAA review will take place in the first quarter of 2021.

Fact Sheet

1. Astral Aviation Consultants and R2A Due Diligence Engineers & Risk Assessors (Melbourne) were engaged to undertake the study.

2. The study was conducted using the principles of SFARP (So Far As Reasonably Practicable) under the provisions of the Health & Safety At Work Act (HSWA) 2015.

3. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) confirmed this approach was an acceptable means of compliance as an alternative to the hazard-based approach specified in the Advisory Circular AC 139-15.

4. The study took three months to be completed and included consultation with identified stakeholders.

5. The CAA will complete their review in the first quarter of 2021 and make their final decision once that is complete.

6. In the 12 months to 31 March 2020, Invercargill recorded approximately 22,000 total movements, consisting of 7,000 IFR and 15,000 VFR, and a passenger through-put of approximately 348,000.

7. The aerodrome currently serves a mix of Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and Visual Flight Rules (VFR) scheduled Passenger services with aircraft up to Code 4C jets, flight training (IFR and VFR), recreational flying, corporate turbo-prop and jet aircraft, fixed wing emergency medical service (EMS) flights and commercial helicopter operations.

8. Airways Corporation of New Zealand is a State Owned Enterprise and is currently the only provider of Air Traffic Control services in New Zealand.

9. The Report has been sent to Civil Aviation Authority for their review and decision. Therefore it is not available to the public at this stage.