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Air Traffic Controllers back up MPs safety fears

Simon Power MP National Party Defence Spokesman

25 September 2003

Air Traffic Controllers back up MPs safety fears

Air Traffic Controllers are raising the alarm on suggestions that Airways Corporation plans to remove the Primary Surveillance Radar system from New Zealand, backing up earlier fears floated by a National Party MP.

"The Air Traffic Control Council has identified seven areas of risk with respect to the system removal and the Council's director is describing the issue as a 'biggy'," says National Party Defence spokesman Simon Power.

He's commenting on statements made in the August issue of the Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter, where Air Traffic Controllers suggest the removal of the Primary Surveillance Radar system at Ohakea is just a first step.

"The Air Traffic Control Council says ' we understand that Airways is the only ATM actively considering this move', it also says 'the PSR has already been moved from Ohakea ... and the results of this should be keenly watched'.

"Air Traffic Controllers are unconvinced by a new reliance on unproven technology and they're asking questions about who will be liable if an accident occurs in the future.

"The Air Traffic Control Council director also writes, 'some in the company suggest all risks can be quantified into a financial value, we are charged with providing a public safety service to an internationally prescribed standard'.

"Surely, when lives are potentially on the line, the absolute safest option should be taken.

"The Minister has failed to give assurances about safety during Parliamentary Questions and he now needs to take the opportunity to tell the public the whole story," says Mr Power.


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