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Submission For East Coast Airspace Review


Ian Sowman                         
11 Ridgeway Terrace
Napier 4112


This submission is in support of  HB&EC Aero Clubs endeavors to retain the 2500ft airspace over NZHS and alter other restrictive VFR changes in the immediate vicinity as proposed in the review.

I am a current VFR microlight pilot, having been involved in GA flying activities since 1967. I am a current member of HB&EC Aero Club operating from Hastings Airfield and have no  IFR experience, therefore my primary concern is the retention of safe simple VFR airspace in the vicinity of my home aerodrome.  I had been based at Napier as a hangar owner until recently when a group of owners were required to relocate due to commercial considerations, so  I am quite conversant operating VFR within controlled airspace.

I understand the requirement to have commercial regional IFR traffic operate in the safest possible manner. However, I feel that the changes proposed will have a huge adverse effect by creating a more hazardous therefore unsafe airspace to the north and east of NZHS, particularly for VFR traffic operating in this high density airspace as well as IFR training from the Academy.

Not only is Hastings Airfield home to 50 or so private and club aircraft but has a large number of students at various stages of training, both from the Aero Club and overseas students (with English as their secondary language) from the flight academy. At times the uncontrolled airspace in the vicinity can be very active with both VFR and IFR traffic operating, and it is not uncommon to have 5 or 6 aircraft in the Hastings circuit, with others leaving and joining from different directions.

Situational awareness is top priority in this vicinity and boundaries should be as uncomplicated as possible. Students in particular have a high workload keeping a good lookout while flying without having to worry about encroaching on controlled airspace. Consider also that we are operating on frequency 125.80  and would not hear a ‘please identify’ call from Napier tower on 124.80, nor understand it if it were on 125.80 The existing 10nm arc is easy to envisage on the ground, is far enough away and seems to have caused little problem in this area since it’s establishment. Leave it as it currently stands.

Writer attended a ‘Southern Skies’ presentation ( CAA or Airways) not too long ago at Napier that indicated future airspace changes would entail a simplification and reduction in controlled airspace, which was in part due to GNSS/PBN and newer aircraft with improved climb and descent rates reducing the size of the controlled area required around regional airports. Good news I thought.

However, the current review is taking an opposing stance impacting severely to the detriment of NZHS VFR traffic safety. It is understood that while in this transition period you are trying to contain IFR approaches in CTAs, however, there are alternatives such as leaving it as it has operated until now without incident, shift the IFR teardrop to a different radial either east or west for Cat B and have a special notification for the odd time when a greater buffer zone is required on an individual Cat C aircraft basis.

Further as a general VFR comment, why establish straight line boundaries that are abstract and do not relate to specific easily identifiable  landmarks. We can all see them very clearly when flying with Nav Aids such as GPS, iPads and Tablets, but local VFR flights usually do not carry these aids. The changes to CTA steps further out, North and South, can be accepted as we are generally aware of their existence, if not accurately, and tend to fly well beneath them.

Due to historic events Napier no longer has a viable ‘flying aero club’, and in all probability will not again, although a commercial flight training organisation could be a possibility as NZNR seems to be hell bent on full commercialization of its facilities.

This brings me from safety concerns to the secondary reason why we require Hastings to be as unrestricted as possible for VFR traffic. Our members, individually and as a group, have battled since it’s inception in 1928 to remain as a viable aviation facility both for the fostering and advancement of general aviation. To this end we are a recognized strategic asset for the Hastings region. Yes, we have commercial operators here, including the Academy, but by and large we are GA flyers of many aircraft types and performances, including nordo.

Regarding the early history of Napier Airport, remember that it began its days as a flying club airfield and was gifted to Napier City given that the City would allow the Club to remain on site in perpetuity. Nevertheless, through many machinations, both the Club and Napier Airport are what they are today. It would appear that this aspect of it’s genesis is given little regard and we therefore must retain Hastings Airfield for what it is today, least it too falls victim to burgeoning commercial pressure and becomes untenable as a GA training, private flyers haven and destination for GA visitors.

In closing I say we have the right to exist and operate unencumbered by further airspace encroachment that restricts our ability to safely operate from our airfield, and the ever increasing demand for more airspace around NZNR.  Surely there are options that better satisfy our joint desire to continue to fly safely in close proximity to each other.

Forgive me for finishing on a cynical note, but it seems to me that in my many years associated with the NZ aviation scene, Government and their agencies will get what they want regardless of what they say or ask of interested parties when large commercial (read political) interests are involved. However, having said that I have also noticed in very recent times that there appears to be a genuine effort for departments to listen more closely, hear their real concerns and obtain an agreeable workable solution.

Attached are copies of the way we were not too long ago. Included here for interest and as a reminder that we can move forward together safely, and as desired, if we really care to.

Yours sincerely

Ian R Sowman

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