Sunday, November 21, 2010

Aviation journey of 37 years comes to end

BOB GUARD:'The daily commute is very 
therapeutic and coming to work allows me 
good planning time.'

Captain Bob Guard will close the door this week on an aviation career spanning almost half a century.

On Friday, Air Nelson's long-serving flight operations manager will take the daily commute to Nelson from his home in Blenheim for the last time. It will be among the many things he will miss about the job.

"The daily commute is very therapeutic and coming to work allows me good planning time. I pass regulars each day and we wave, but we don't have a clue who each other is," he said.

Leaving the job would be a "real wrench", but it was time to move on and make way for a new generation. Air Nelson captain Darin Stringer has been appointed as the new flight operations manager.

Mr Guard, who is one of the most respected people in the New Zealand aviation industry, is among the few to have been with Air Nelson from its inception to its role as a key player in Air New Zealand's Link operator fleets.

Mr Guard was recently awarded, for the second time since 1999, the Civil Aviation Authority director's award for an industry individual for his contribution to Air Nelson.

He has spent a total of 37 years with the Air New Zealand group, and 20 of those years were with Air Nelson. Before that, he spent time as an aero club chief flying instructor, and flew Bristol Freighters with Blenheim-based Safe Air.

"I have seen in my time with Air Nelson five general managers starting with Air Nelson founder Robert Inglis. Each manager brought a different style to the company."

His love for aviation was forged during his boyhood in Fairlie, south Canterbury, where his French Pass-born father, Stan, worked as a boat builder.

"It's just a passion I've always had. I've not considered any other career," said Mr Guard, now 65, who earned his private pilot's licence at the age of 16.

His commercial licence followed when he was 20.

Career highlights included how readily Air Nelson embraced change and advancements in aviation technology, and the introduction of the Saab fleet, which has since been replaced with the Q300 aircraft.

"For a flight operations manager to help introduce two new fleets and two flight simulators is something most guys only dream of," Mr Guard said.

Air Nelson got into simulator training five years before the rules required it to.

He captained the first New Zealand-registered Saab flight, in October 1990, and still has a "soft spot" for the aircraft type.

"The company's future lies with the Q300 development, but the Saab was the most satisfying part of my career. It was such a lovely aeroplane and it helped grow the business. We became an excellent regional airline. Air Nelson is known as one of the best regionals in Australasia."

He now aims to encourage young people into aviation careers, and is in talks with educators about setting up a formal liaison role. He has clear views on what sort of person makes a good pilot.

"You have to be disciplined, and in my view, you still need a passion for aviation. I think the good role models are those with discipline and natural competency, and those with a passion for what they are doing. It's not just a job." Mr Guard will now also have time to catalogue a huge library of aviation publications.

"It's been a great journey for me and I've travelled to places I wouldn't have and flown in countries I wouldn't have."

Monday, November 15, 2010

New Zealand Aviation News :: Step Towars Making The Pacific A Safer Place

The idyllic islands nations of the South Pacific are a far cry from the world of international terrorism. These states must comply with international conventions governing civil aviation; and their governments to recognise that aviation security measures are designed to prevent any unlawful act, not just the actions of terrorists. Reducing complacency amongst security personnel and raising the necessary funds to deploy the latest technologies are significant challenges in an environment where small populations limit the money available and where palm trees, coral reefs and sun-drenched beaches make a sense of crisis hard to embrace. New Zealand’s Aviation Security Service (Avsec) General Manager MARK EVERITT reports on what New Zealand is doing to help make the South Pacific a safer place.

Avsec is a government entity established under New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Act to provide aviation security at New Zealand’s seven international airports to all international and some specified domestic air transport services.

Avsec is funded through domestic and international passenger security charges on airlines. As a national organisation with around 800 staff, Avsec has its own national training centre in Auckland. The centre is also a sub-regional ICAO Aviation Security Training Centre.

Avsec currently manages six aviation security projects in the South Pacific—in the areas of coordination, training, equipment provision, equipment maintenance audits and regional security provider summits.

Since 2007, the coordination and development of Avsec’s Pacific projects has been managed by Murray Breeze, Manager Quality Systems Development (Pacific Islands).

Prior to his appointment, Breeze had a lengthy specialist aviation security background with the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority.

His current role also includes liaison with international partners such as ICAO, the Australian Office of Transport Security, the US Transportation Security Administration and the Pacific Aviation Safety Office.

The Pacific aviation security environment
The Pacific is generally a relaxed region with occasional local tensions rising from time to time in some countries.However, within the area covered by Avsec projects (Samoa, the Cook Islands, Niue, Vanuatu, Tonga and the Solomon Islands), the aviation security threat level is low to very low or negligible.

Most of these Pacific countries are about three hours flying time from New Zealand and their populations range from 1,500 to 500,000 people.
To support these countries and decrease the threat, Avsec provides assistance through a variety of projects. Such assistance is important as many of these countries rely on their air links to New Zealand and Australia, the two countries that provide most of their tourists, or through which tourists transit to get to their island of choice.
Air New Zealand, Pacific Blue (a subsidiary of Virgin Blue) and Air Pacific are the major airlines operating in the South Pacific. They fly within the South Pacific and to/from New Zealand, Australia and the United States.
In general, aviation security units in the South Pacific are part of government-owned airport companies with the exception of Niue, where aviation security activities are carried out by the local police, and the Solomon Islands where the aviation security provider is a stand-alone government agency under a Civil Aviation Act. (This is similar to the New Zealand structure).

In recent years, several Pacific countries aligned to the Pacific Aviation Safety Office agreed to an aviation oversight treaty and they adopted the New Zealand-style Civil Aviation Acts and Rules for aviation security—and also for their other aviation activities such as flight operations, airworthiness, etc. This common regulatory system has resulted in New Zealand being a ‘natural’ provider of assistance and advice.
All international airports in these countries have cabin bag x-ray machines, walk-through metal detectors and hold baggage screening machines in place. Most of these important equipment have been provided by New Zealand.

Australia also assists and has recently provided several countries with Tutor 2 CBT training systems and laptops to run the programme.Avsec believes there is little point in placing shiny new equipment in airports and not, at the same time, delivering the skills needed to operate it. While this philosophy may seem fundamental, it has not always been the case in the Pacific. There are many examples of donated equipment delivered to airports without any training or support, or without appropriate maintenance or user manuals (in English, the predominant second language spoken in the Pacific). Where such equipment has not been supported, a common outcome has been that when the equipment fails, it is simply discarded because of the lack of basic knowledge or information needed to fix it.

Why New Zealand involvement?
The six countries which Avsec currently assists were selected for their historical and geographical links with New Zealand (Auckland is the largest Polynesian city in the world) and because five of them have direct air links to New Zealand.
The Solomon Islands, which does not have direct air links, is part of the group because of New Zealand’s historical connection through such organisations as the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) which has troops and police from a range of Pacific countries assisting with peace-keeping operations.
The Solomons project commenced as a joint Australian and New Zealand project but is now solely New Zealand-funded as Australia focuses more on the regulatory regime.

For some years, Avsec has been able to access aviation security funding for the Pacific from the New Zealand government’s Pacific Security Fund.
This cross-government contestable fund, which is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has provided project funds for aviation security.
The fund is open to bids from New Zealand government agencies that seek to carry out security related activities and assistance in the Pacific.
This offshore assistance has been critical to the development of proficient aviation security units in small countries because of their inability to access adequate funding.
Full funding from government is rarely available because the economies are too small, and the other primary option is the imposition of charges on passengers.
In most cases, such passenger charges if they were to cover all costs, would be unsustainable and a barrier to travel.
For most counties, the solution will be a mixture of both funding sources. However, any funding solution requires considerable government commitment. In the meantime, Avsec and the New Zealand government have been in a position to assist until other sustainable sources of funding are available.
While acknowledging their own priorities and responsibilities, the Australia/New Zealand relationship around aviation security has worked well, with clearly identified and established lines of responsibility.

Avsec works with the aviation security provider and the Australian Office of Transport Security tends to work with the regulatory personnel.
The effective communication between the two agencies has meant that any doubling up on efforts or resources has been avoided

Over the last two years, the global recession has assisted many Pacific countries in that visitor numbers (primarily from Australia and New Zealand) have increased significantly as travellers have been reluctant to spend on major trips to the Northern Hemisphere and have instead opted for local Pacific holidays.
This increase in travellers has also necessitated an appropriate level of aviation security.

Much to the surprise and consternation of many foreign passengers, LAG requirements have been introduced and enforced. Recently, the effectiveness of passenger screening in Pacific countries was tested by Avsec in order to provide objective evidence, the results of prohibited Items, LAGs and dangerous goods seized from ex-Pacific transiting passengers at Auckland International Airport (Auckland services passengers transiting from five of the six Pacific countries Avsec assists) were recorded over a three month period. The resulting evidence assisted the countries concerned in improving their LAG performance.

Case Studies
Two particular aviation security success stories are the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.
The Solomon Islands: As a result of bilateral discussions between the Australian Office of Transport Security and Avsec, Avsec went to the Solomon Islands in 2005 on a needs assessment visit.

The country had recently come through a period of civil instability and the infrastructure had become run down. At that time it was established that there was no equipment in place, little internal or external training had been carried out for several years. A project was developed and jointly funded by New Zealand and Australia which saw new screening equipment, training and advice being delivered and implemented. Vanuatu: In August 2009, Airports Vanuatu Ltd sought assistance for the provision of some HBS equipment to replace their current 13-year old machine at Bauerfield International Airport. The request was managed by Avsec and the machine was installed and operational within four months of the initial request.
The airport company also contributed to the success of the project by rebuilding and refurbishing the HBS room.

Where to from here?
Provided that funding from the Pacific Security Fund is available, Avsec will continue to support its Pacific colleagues to ensure aviation security units are developed to a sustainable level in training, expertise and equipment.

The targeted and well-directed activity carried out by Avsec provides airlines operating in the region and foreign regulators with assurances that the South Pacific is more secure and that the threat to aviation is lessened.The outcome of this assistance is the provision of systems, procedures, quality control, technology and training to protect people and their aircraft.

New Zealand is also very aware of the Rugby World Cup which it is hosting in September and October 2011. Visitor numbers are expected to be around 85,000 over the course of the event and it seems likely that a number of these visitors will combine travel to New Zealand with side trips to other Pacific destinations.

This could put some pressure on islands airports, but New Zealand believes this will be managed well by the countries concerned. Meanwhile, the economic benefits of these extra visitors will be much welcomed.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New Zealand tourist plane unbalanced before crash

WELLINGTON — A New Zealand tourist plane which crashed killing nine people in September was overloaded and unbalanced when the accident occurred, an official report found Thursday.
In the nation's worst air accident in 17 years, the Fletcher FU24 plunged to the ground and burst into flames shortly after takeoff on September 4 near Fox Glacier on the rugged west coast of New Zealand's South Island.
The plane operated by Skydive New Zealand, was carrying a pilot, four skydive instructors and four foreign tourists. There were no survivors.
The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) said in an interim report that witnesses reported the plane, a single-engined converted cropduster, was almost vertical when it crashed.
They said a fine mist enveloped the plane, which had just been refuelled, before it burst into flames, the report said.
TAIC said the plane was estimated to be carrying about five kilograms (11 pounds) more than its maximum load capacity of 2,203 kilograms during the fatal flight.
It also estimated that the distribution of passengers in the plane's cabin meant its centre of gravity was about 75 centimetres (30 inches) behind the optimal position.
In the week after the crash, New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority issued an urgent directive limiting the maximum number of parachutists on FU24 flights to six.
The TAIC said it would examine a range of issues before releasing its final report, including regulations governing parachuting operations in New Zealand and the possibility an aircraft malfunction contributed to the accident.
The crash victims included five New Zealanders and four foreign tourists -- one each from Britain, Ireland, Germany and Australia.

The Fletcher FU24 plunged to the ground and burst into flames shortly after takeoff near Fox Glacier, New Zealand

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Encounters with marine life in New Zealand

Kaikoura is one of the few locations in the world where whales can be seen from the shore. (Courtesy Chris McLennan/Tourism New Zealand)
As a destination, New Zealand has proven itself to have some of the most friendly, engaging and charming locals time and time again.

Interestingly enough, those attributes don’t just apply to the people. They also describe many of the marine mammals and other sea creatures that call the waters off New Zealand home. With several breathtaking coastal areas, where visitors can enjoy a close encounter with friendly dolphins or take a whale watching tour, it’s easy to see some of the most incredible marine life in the world.

As the only habitat of one of the world’s rarest dolphins, the friendly Hector’s dolphin, New Zealand is also home to dusky dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, and the orca (killer whales). Pilot whales, penguins and New Zealand fur seals are also part of the sea population of New Zealand.

For many, swimming with dolphins has been a lifelong dream. Throughout New Zealand, there are many opportunities to swim with the playful creatures in the open sea, rather than in penned aquarium cages.

Daily tour boats operate from a number of ports throughout the country, including the Bay of Islands, Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf, Kaikoura, Milford and Doubtful Sounds, Lyttleton and Akaroa, where there is the chance to swim with Hector’s dolphin. The boats have large viewing decks and guides trained in marine mammal behaviour. Passengers learn about the marine life and habitat and are provided with interesting and entertaining information about the sea life. Swimmers are equipped with a wet suit, mask and snorkel in order to get up close and personal with the charming sea mammals.

While there is a great deal of freedom in swimming in the open ocean with dolphins, tour guides are always focused on ensuring that this is done with environmental sensitivity and with the welfare of the dolphins in mind. The Department of Conservation has put into place very strict guidelines to protect the sea life. Swimmers are briefed on what is and is not acceptable when interacting with the lively and intelligent mammals.

For those interested in whales, there are many opportunities to experience the drama and beauty of several different species in their natural environment. In fact, nearly half of the world’s whale species can be seen off New Zealand. Some species, such as the sperm whale, are considered “permanent residents.” Other types of whales, such as humpbacks, blue and southern whales, pass New Zealand at the beginning of winter on their way to the nutrient-rich waters of the Southern Pacific ocean.

The Ontario Science Centre has just opened a special exhibition of Whales/Tohora, developed and presented by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. The Whales/Tohora is a dramatic encounter with an undersea world of skeletons, fossils and models – a feast of exciting information and activities for adults and children. This exhibit is at the Ontario Science Centre until March 20, 2011.

Air New Zealand has direct non-stop flights from Vancouver to Auckland and offers flights from many other North American cities. Visit for more information. Qantas ( also offers flights from many North American cities.

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Strong affections for Safe Air

Blenheim aviation company Safe Air is all about engineering these days, but for most of its 60-year life it was an air carrier with an iconic fleet and a reputation for efficiency.

A Safe Air chief pilot for a decade, Keith Beattie, 88, arrived at the company in 1951, the year after its inception, and the year it received its first two Bristol 170 freighters.

The company built up a fleet of 13 of the bull-nosed planes at its height and they became the symbol of Safe Air.

In 1951 the company was small with only two planes and a handful of pilots, Mr Beattie said.

The company started with a contract for the New Zealand Railways Department air freight contract over Cook Strait.

"The mechanised loading system could turn the aircraft around in about 15 minutes; that really got the contract in the beginning," he said.

The aircraft were loaded and unloaded almost simultaneously by a system which pulled the cargo from the plane on rails to a mechanised platform, which then transferred it straight onto waiting trucks.

From that beginning Safe Air began flying all around the country, he said.

Mr Beattie flew the Bristols for 23 years before transferring to the Argosies when they entered the fleet in 1973.

"They were a good company to fly for. That [the Argosy] was a nice aeroplane to fly – a turbine prop aircraft, four engine, much larger than the Bristol, and with a pressurised cabin could get above the weather a bit."

Mr Beattie was forced to retire from Safe Air by New Zealand aviation law when he turned 55 in 1977, he said.

"You had to retire from [commercial] flying at 55 ... no question about it. You reached 55 and that was it."

Noel Mangin, 79, of Witherlea, joined Safe Air as a pilot in 1966 after working as a top-dressing instructor in the North Island and as a freight and passenger pilot out of Deep Cove in Fiordland.

Two years later he was out of a job and back into top dressing after about 15 pilots were laid off from the company. However, five months later he was rehired by Safe Air and stayed until he retired in 1986.

At its height, Safe Air was a strong company with contracts and flights all over the country, he said.

There were all sorts of flights made, including the four daily mail runs, passenger services and freight carriage.

At its busiest, there were five Safe Air planes flying five "straits" (return trips over Cook Strait) a day, which took about 10 hours, he said.

It was possible to make so many trips in a day because of the speed the planes could be turned around, he said.

"From the time the aircraft landed, taxied, unloaded and loaded was 20 minutes. It was unique the loading system we had – to the world actually.

"Safe Air in its heyday was a great little company ... it was well run, and the maintenance of the aircraft was excellent. Everybody knew each other and worked in well together, and we saw the best of the flying compared to today's. Today, it's all computers and everything; it's a different outlook on what we went through."

Mr Mangin loved flying.

"I always worked on the basis that flying was better than working. Flying's more than a job. It's freedom. Top dressing was complete freedom in an aeroplane."

Mr Mangin flew the Bristol 170 freighter, which was the mainstay of the Safe Air fleet throughout its air-carrier life until they were sold in 1986.

"It was a very forgiving aeroplane to fly and it performed well – that was the main thing."

The plane was used to carry both freight and passengers.

"Freight doesn't growl at you like passengers do, but it must have been gold plated to go through some of the weather and the s... that they wanted you to take it," he said.

The pilots were astute when it came to the weather though – they knew it backwards, he said.

The Bristol could fly comfortably with a cross-wind under 40kmh and that was strictly adhered to, he said. "Otherwise, it starts getting a little dicey trying to land the thing. If your limitations are over, you don't go in, or you don't leave . If you exceed them, then you're being stupid."

When Mr Mangin retired in 1986 there were 36 pilots working at Safe Air. "I was virtually going out with the Bristols; they were being retired at the same time that I was," he said.

The company continued its air operations with the Argosies until Safe Air was reformed as an engineering company in 1990 by its parent Air New Zealand.

Twenty years after its transformation the company has retained the innovation with which it began, Safe Air general manager Heather Deacon said. "That's quite a Kiwi trait to come up with innovative ways of solving problems; because of its [New Zealand's] relative isolation, people had to make do with the resources around at the time."

The company had to ensure it stayed one step ahead of changes in the industry.

Maintenance of new aircraft was different to the work needed for older machines, Mrs Deacon said.

Safe Air also had to take opportunities presented. The Ministry of Defence White Paper released this month outlined a move toward contracting and civilianising support roles for the Air Force which was right in Safe Air's alley, she said.

The company was already looking at ways to take advantage of the change, she said.

Design was a part of the company which could be more prominent. In the past the design department was a support for the engineering workshop, but it could draw in work on its on right, she said.

An example of Safe Air's potential was a contract 18 months ago for the outfit of 12 aircraft which was worth more than the Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3 Orion and C-130 Hercules contracts combined.

Safe Air was home and dry for the contract to plan the upgrade, fit the upgrade and provide experienced staff for technical support. The company secured the contract through the high standard of its work and its ability to do the job, she said. However, the contract was scuppered by a massive 30 per cent increase in the kiwi dollar compared to the United States dollar, which the two companies could not absorb, Mrs Deacon said. "This demonstrates the ability of this company still, to go out and secure this high-value work that would see this company grow and prosper."

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Zealand Aviation NEWS

New Zealand Aviation NEWS

Coming soon

Ritu Riya 
Trainee Editor 

Capt Shekhar Gupta
Chief Editor