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NZ Pilots Call For Independent Inquiry Following ICAO Security Audit Failure

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) are calling for an independent inquiry into the country’s aviation security after Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Queenstown’s international airports failed an International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) security audit.

The ICAO audit found that New Zealand’s international airports did not have adequate ‘airside’ security – which is the side of an airport terminal beyond passport and customs control.

It is understood that New Zealand’s Aviation Security Service (AVSEC ) has recently received notification of the failed ICAO audit and have since been working to better secure the airside areas.

NZALPA President and international airline pilot Captain Andrew Ridling said that the Association had concerns about AVSEC operation and its resources for some time, and had raised these concerns with Ministers, the Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and publicly with the Transport Select Committee during the recent hearings on changes to the Civil Aviation Bill, currently going through Parliament.

“We understand that AVSEC are in the process of making changes to ensure the airside environment is secure. The fact remains, however, that compared to international standards these areas at our international airports were left vulnerable to security breaches and criminal activity - and were so for far too long,” Captain Ridling says.

“Today we are calling for an independent inquiry into aviation security in New Zealand and the need for AVSEC to be a stand-alone agency from CAA, similar to the American regulatory model where the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have different reporting lines.

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“The fact CAA both governs and audits AVSEC is a clear conflict of interest, nor does it appear to be the best for airside security.”

Despite international best practice and offers to support, Captain Ridling said NZALPA weren’t invited to be involved in the fixing of the airside security issues.

“What’s clear is that AVSEC needs to be both resourced properly and subject to independent scrutiny,” says Captain Ridling.

“At the very least, we owe this to both the travelling public and to our members.”

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