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King says air safety is the priority

Annette King says air safety is the priority

Transport Minister Annette King and Civil Aviation Authority chair Ron Tannock say public safety is the paramount consideration in all sectors of the civil aviation industry, and processes to achieve that safety must be transparent.

Ms King met Mr Tannock, deputy chair Hazel Armstrong and Secretary for Transport Robin Dunlop today to discuss recommendations from the June 2005 Audit Office report into CAA certification and surveillance functions, and last month's coroner's report into the Air Adventures tragedy.

"CAA and the Ministry have agreed that all the recommendations in these two reports will be implemented as soon as possible, and that progress on implementing them will be updated monthly on both the CAA and Ministry websites. The public must know exactly what improvements are being put in place to enhance their safety."

Ms King says she has been assured that the civil aviation safety model is "sound in itself, but there are things that can be done better. In particular, there clearly needs to be a speeding up in the process of making rules, a regular review mechanism for all rules, and consideration of areas where emergency rules might be appropriate. The CAA needs to re-examine the powers and functions of its director, particularly in relation to his powers of delegation."

Ms King and Mr Tannock say the emphasis in the industry must quite rightly be on the social cost of deaths and serious injury.

"I am assured the major aviation industry sector is working well, but there needs to be greater concentration on safety in the general aviation area --- small operators, sport and recreation, agriculture and helicopters," says Ms King.

"This is the area where I am told most improvements in safety can be made. Enforcement for the general aviation sector has not been good enough in the past, and CAA has agreed to look at policy initiatives to deal with non-compliance. Non-compliance is simply not acceptable. It is not sufficient telling people off. Action has to be taken to make them compliant.

"The hallmark of this sector must be transparency and dialogue between all those involved in it. The general aviation sector needs to accept that with self-regulation comes accountability. Such accountability rests not just with the CAA, but the industry players themselves. I congratulate the vast majority of operators who do accept accountability, but the small number who don't had better look out."

Ms King says she has been assured by CAA that it does not lack the financial resources to put more emphasis on implementing and monitoring safety in the general aviation sector, "but it seems there is a need for the director and management to provide more human resources in this area."

Ms King says that coincidentally the Ministry is reviewing the Civil Aviation Act 1990. "The scope of this review will be determined and publicised within the next month.

"I was encouraged by the positive nature of today's meeting, and I will continue, at the request of the board chair and deputy chair, to meet with them and the Ministry regularly in the future. I cannot over-emphasise the importance of transparency and dialogue between all parts of the sector on safety issues, and I am determined that's what will happen as a matter of course in the future."


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