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Modernising the NZ aviation system

Modernising the NZ aviation system

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has released a plan which will set the direction for the modernisation of New Zealand’s airspace and air navigation system.

The National Airspace and Air Navigation Plan enables the introduction of technology solutions over the next 10 years that will mean shorter journeys, improved safety and lower carbon emissions in the aviation sector.

“This plan outlines how the government and aviation industry will manage the transition from ground-based to modern satellite-based navigation and surveillance technologies, digital information and communication systems, and streamlined air traffic control,” Mr Brownlee says.

“It promotes the uptake of new technologies with an estimated economic benefit of almost $2 billion over the next 20 years.

“These technologies have the potential to bring about significant improvements in efficiency, safety and environmental outcomes in the aviation sector, especially as air traffic volumes increase.

“As the new technologies are implemented, passengers will benefit from shorter, more direct flight paths and fewer delays.

“Pilots and aircraft operators will also benefit from the new technologies, which enable safer, more efficient flights. However, in order to gain the full benefit from the new technologies, some operators may need to invest in new equipment.”

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will be leading work to keep investment costs as low as possible. The CAA will also work with the aviation sector on options to ensure that those who choose not to invest in new equipment can still access as much airspace as possible.

Mr Brownlee says the plan would not have been possible without the support of the aviation community.

“This has been a collaborative process and aviation stakeholders will continue to be involved as the initiatives in the plan are implemented over the next decade,” Mr Brownlee says.

Implementation of the National Airspace and Air Navigation Plan will be developed under the ‘New Southern Sky’ programme. New Southern Sky will be a coordinated, cross-agency programme that runs through to 2023.

The National Airspace and Air Navigation Plan is available on CAA’s website: www.caa.govt.nz

Q & A – New Southern Sky National Airspace and Air Navigation Plan – 16 June 2014

Why has New Zealand developed a National Airspace and Air Navigation Plan?

In the coming years, there will be major shifts in the technology that underpins our airspace and navigation system. The changes will make flying safer, more efficient and even more reliable.

We need to make sure that we are ready for the changes, and can take advantage of the benefits that they will bring. Many other jurisdictions, including the US and several countries in Europe are putting similar plans in place.

What is the purpose of the plan?

New Southern Sky sets out the proposed pathway for the modernisation of New Zealand’s airspace and air navigation system over the next decade. It outlines practical steps we all need to take to transition to using new technologies, manage airspace as demand increases, to improve the efficiency of New Zealand’s airspace and enhance safety.

What sorts of benefits will the plan bring?

The plan will enable the uptake of new technologies which will bring estimated economic benefits of around $2 billion to New Zealand over the next 20 years. Other benefits include shorter journeys, improved safety and lower carbon emissions.

What are the main changes outlined?

The Plan covers eight key elements of New Zealand’s aviation system: navigation, surveillance, communication, aeronautical information management, air traffic management, airspace design, aerodromes, and meteorological services.

It should be read as a whole as it brings together all the actions that should be implemented over the next decade in 3 stages (2014-2015, 2016-2018 and 2019-2023).

Key proposals in each area are:

Performance Based Navigation (PBN)

• Performance Based Navigation will become the standard for instrument flight rules (IFR) operations. Pilots who want to take advantage of the efficiencies from Performance Based Navigation procedures will need to have the right equipment, operating procedures and training.

• A ground navigation aid strategy will be prepared by the end of 2015. This will assist people to determine whether they will still be able to use existing instrument flight rules procedures based on ground based navigation aids. Airways will be starting consultation on this in the near future.


• The current radar network will reach end of life by 2021. Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast will become New Zealand’s main surveillance system.

• Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast transponders use GPS information to broadcast an aircraft’s position, altitude, velocity and other aircraft-derived data. This data is received by ground stations and is fed to air traffic control displays.

• Some contingency radar and multi-lateration surveillance will remain – contingency coverage will be determined by the end of 2015.

• Aircraft operations in controlled airspace covered by Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast surveillance will need to be equipped with a Mode-S 1090 Extended squitter transponder – that is above 24,500ft by 2018 and all controlled airspace by 2021.


• Radio will remain the primary communications medium but data-link (messaging) technology may be expanded in the future.

• Improvements in communication between aircraft and controllers on the ground, leading to more efficient pre-departure clearances for international aircraft.

• SATVOICE (satellite phones) may supersede HF (high frequency radio) as primary oceanic voice communications in controlled airspace.

Air Traffic Management

• There will be significant system improvements through more trajectory based management by Airways, utilising predictive tools.

Airspace Design

• Airspace will be re-designed to reflect the new Performance Based Navigation routes and surveillance network. It is possible in some cases that controlled airspace area may be simplified and reduced.


• Integration of aerodrome planning with the rest of the system (including land-use management) through greater collaboration.

Aeronautical Information Management

• Aeronautical information (including meteorological information) will be integrated, in digital form, and ultimately provided direct to the cockpit.

• There will be guidance on the use of devices for accessing aeronautical information.


• Provision of meteorological information in a data-centric form

• Improving the availability of consistent meteorological information

• Improving the network of real-time meteorological observational data.

• Integrate meteorological information into formats for Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs), and for use on iPads, tablets etc

• Building on extensive work already done on the implementation of advanced weather data for forecasting, and for the development of graphical products.

To enable a safe transition to the new systems, the Plan signals a greater use of collaboration and an emphasis on education and training for everyone.

Has there been any industry consultation?

Yes, the Civil Aviation Authority has been consulting widely with all sectors of the aviation community over several years. As the plan is implemented, there will be further opportunities for those affected by the changes in the plan to give feedback.

Will there be any additional costs for airline operators / pilots?

Some of the changes proposed by the plan will require aircraft operators and pilots to invest in new equipment. Some operators will recoup costs through efficiencies, which will result in lower costs. The Civil Aviation Authority is working with its partners to implement changes in ways that minimise costs whilst ensuring benefits accrue to operators and pilots.

What is the total cost of the plan to the government?

The Plan itself does not impose any cost on government. It is focused on making the most efficient use of current budgeted spending by Civil Aviation Authority, Airways, airlines and other organisations in the aviation sector.

What is the Civil Aviation Authority doing to reduce the financial burden of changes on smaller operators / private pilots?

One of the key projects in the Plan involves looking at ways that we can facilitate a smooth transition between what pilots and operators need now, and what they will need in the future, such as equipment for aircraft.

We will also be considering changes that will give pilots options where they can operate safely without significant investment in additional equipment. For example, changes to controlled airspace which will allow private pilots to fly in a bigger area without the need to equip their aircraft to fly in controlled airspace.

When are the changes expected to take effect and how will they be implemented?

Implementation of the proposed changes will occur over the next decade in three stages (2014/2015, 2018 and 2023). The Plan will be reviewed at these stages, and also when needed to address new technological or international developments.

As a pilot what does this mean for me?

A lot of the changes proposed in the plan are behind the scenes. Air traffic control efficiency will increase. You may also see a reduction and simplification of the controlled airspace area. There is an emphasis on collaboration, so you will have many opportunities to have your say in the development of navigation aid, surveillance strategies and aerodrome management plans.

Performance Based Navigation

There are some equipment and procedure changes that you will need to plan for. If you want to fly instrument flight rules, then within the next decade, Performance Based Navigation routes will become the norm. You will only be able to fly these if the navigation equipment on board your aircraft is properly certified, and you have in place the appropriate procedures and training to fly such operations.

Auto Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast

By 2021, if you want to operate in controlled airspace, the Plan proposes you will need to equip your aircraft with an Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast capable mode S transponder. If you want to operate above FL 245, you will need this equipment by 2018.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast requires an accurate GPS unit on board the aircraft to provide high accuracy data for transmitting position reports. The cost of this will depend on whether your existing equipment can be upgraded.

There will be plenty of information provided on these changes – the Plan proposes education and training programmes to help pilots and operators to understand the transition and make the changes.

Will there be any changes to civil aviation rules?

Some of the bigger proposals in this Plan will need regulatory changes including Civil Aviation Rule amendments. The aviation sector and the general public will have a further chance to have a say on the more significant proposals, as all regulatory changes will go through the normal rule development process, including consultation.

Where can I find out more about the plan?

To find out more about the Plan, visit nss.govt.nz. If you’d like to get regular updates follow New Southern Sky on Twitter @NewSouthernSky or join the New Southern Sky LinkedIn group to have your say on how the plan is implemented. You can also email nss@caa.govt.nz.


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