How safe is the helicopter sector?

As a layperson, it is difficult to assess this, however it is concerning that so many flights are not compliant with the aviation rules and that the CAA was not involved in consenting the 48 helipads already existing on Waiheke.

The CAA has made its own assessment of the helicopter sector and thinks that it presents an unacceptable risk to people’s safety and wellbeing. They briefed the Minister for Transport that their only critical safety issue is with helicopters, and that this focus drives their work on a day-to-day basis, with an active work programme that is prioritised over other work:

As part of that work programme, some risks have been identified:

Quiet Sky Waiheke believes that a Special Use Airspace over Waiheke Island, with mandatory unconcealed ADS-B transponder use, would enhance the safe performance of the helicopter sector. Aviation New Zealand’s AIRCARE programme has similar flying requirements to those proposed for the Special Use Airspace and they also feel that following such best practice will provide a raft of safety benefits, as follows:

  • Safety is enhanced (aircraft accident rates 32% better than for non-accredited operators)
  • Compliance requirements are not overlooked
  • Enhanced support from staff and their families who appreciate the extra layers of safety
  • Provides customers with transparent systems and lower risk operations
  • Customers know best practice is being followed and that their environmental expectations are being met
  • Less auditing for customers as a means of meeting their quality and safety requirements
  • CAA’s SMS requirements met
  • HSW’s requirements met
  • The knowledge that the company is making a major contribution to the sustainability of the industry as a whole

The message is that safety, courtesy to the general public, and sustainable tourism go hand in hand. Quiet Sky Waiheke is calling on the CAA to approve the Special Use Airspace application, to ensure that aviation and tourism has a sustainable future on Waiheke, without destroying the peaceful natural local environment that makes Waiheke such a sought-after tourism experience.