"Red boots" and the team send their Christmas greetings to you and your family and friends. We would first like to send out some very large get well's to the " the gentleman of the South aka Rocky" who is spending a bit of time in Kew Hospital recuperating, and to "Butch" who is in the orthopedic ward at Waikato hospital after a pretty serious ag accident a couple of weeks ago. One of the very interesting and relevant statistics from the CAA’s data base is that we've been having a fairly serious ag accident every fortnight for the last 3 to 4 months.
So it is with great pride we announce the most recent recipients of our safety recognition awards - Garden City Helicopters based, of course, in Christchurch. What an amazing company - and the experience of its personnel is testament to what suburb people, backed by a great safety culture, can achieve. The award made to the company is for 25 years fatality free flying. Garden City is the provider of accident and rescue EMS services in the north and central South Island, and operates in some of the most demanding conditions. Our AIRCARE Safety Recognition Awards are made only after an exhaustive research into the company and its personnel – these investigations tell us a lot about the company , its people and their ethics, and, most importantly, the safety culture of the business.
In making the award to the company we also recognise Platinum - Neil Scott, Chris Wilding, Russell Cross, Tim Douglas Clifford. Gold - Mark Read, Quentin Hulse, Stuart Farquhar. Silver - Angus Taylor. In speaking to Simon Duncan CEO it was also really interesting to learn of the company's expansion overseas into Vanuatu and beyond. What we do know from international travel and tourism connections is that the number one priority of travelers, particularly those using General Aviation services, is the safety record of the company. These safety recognition awards are all part of building the brand New Zealand ‘safety profile’ for our industry. They are assured through an intensive peer review process as well as inquiries with the company’s insurers. This award was made in accord with our old category of ‘fatality free’. From next year, awards will be tightened - not that this would affect Garden City Helicopters whose safety record is outstanding in all respects.
Protecting brand Aviation New Zealand is one of the fundamental strategies we have been advancing for a number of years. The AIRCARE programme is clearly an integral part as are the safety recognition awards and the Safety Advisory Committee. This committee work has largely revolved around the very successful Incident Review Meetings held each year at conference. For those of you haven't attended conference, these meetings are about sharing the in depth experiences of participants in the industry. A number of the sessions are closed i.e. exclude regulatory parties, and provide an opportunity for industry to exchange information without fear of prosecution. We know from comments that these sessions are significant to the learnings each operator takes away from the meeting. Next year’s conference in Dunedin will focus on safety and profitability across all sectors of the industry. We know that without one we can't have the other.
On Wednesday our President signed the new joint Air Ambulance air Rescue standard with Ambulance New Zealand. This standard replaces the two previously separate documents and from 1 January all operators wanting AIRCARE ems accreditation will be accredited to that standard. Note this standard is very flexible and depends on the type of service and who your customer is. For those who are accessing ACC and Ministry of Health contracts must be compliant with NASO audit rules which are quite specific. For all other parties the AIRCARE assurance programme maintained by Navigatus is acceptable. All applications for accreditation come across '"red boots" desk and we can ' "draft" you very efficiently once we know which contracts you wish to access or potentially access.
We spent the earlier part of this week having a number of key meetings. On Monday morning Airways conducted an intensive briefing with the GA industry over a number of potential pricing changes. Early next year they will be conducting road shows. More detailed information is provided later in this newsletter about the Airway’s programme for next year.
We also met with CAA over their briefing to Government which seemed to indicate this Association favoured the proposed pricing changes. While one person’s gloss on an issue is another's thin line between honesty and lack thereof, it is very clear that both the Ministry of Transport and CAA are now carefully considering the whole issue of first principles of pricing. It is very disappointing that they didn't take this approach from day one. However, some times you just have to wait for the planets to align, and this is what we believe is happening. Fortuitously for aviation, Maritime is holding the same type of review and it is becoming fairly clear that there are no rules around what sits in the ‘common good’ bucket. In other words, and reading between the lines, the aviation bucket is defined very thinly whereas the Maritime bucket is expansive. All good agencies like to see the bucket described in one way and covering the same things. Speaking of CAA some of you will be interested that Andy Mackay has started work with them in the personnel licensing area. Andy's been away in Indonesia for a few years and is pleased to be at home again.
However, for all of this reflection, we still do not perceive any sense of urgency. From our perspective, this is the most worrying aspect of the pricing debate. There is still no response to our petition for exemption, but we know it has been considered several times . We view the petition as a signal that if not granted, raises some severe questions about the operation of the single aviation market. Put quite simply, we don't know how a pilot can be incapacitated on one side of the Tasman and fit and healthy on the other - unless there's some miracle cure we don't know about.
There has been a few questions asked about SMS of recent times and particularly, why haven't we heard anything about the rule for some time. As we understand, the rule is requiring Cabinet approval and prior to this, key government agencies have to make comment. Now, undoubtedly the Pike River findings are influencing thinking in agencies on the matter of adopting risk based rules, and as a consequence, thinking on the issue has slowed. We would like to think that in the New Year, Cabinet will resolve to support the proposed changes. We understand the proposed phased introduction remains, and the coverage to and including CAR 137 remains. You'll note the CAA has recently published the supporting AC documents along with comments on their web site.
For commercial aviation, introducing the SMS rule, we hope, will further promote some major re think, especially in the area of health and safety in employment; as it makes no sense to have two separate statutory systems and two regulators - there is only one safety state and that is ‘don't hurt your staff, customers or yourself’. SMS also gives us some more powerful tools to deal with the issue of third parties and the risks they create for us. This is where the AIRCARE programme has its power, as it brings those third parties together on one platform. It was really pleasing to get a note from ACC indicating they will be back in touch with us in the new year to talk about working with AIRCARE and delivering some additional financial benefits to our accredited operators. ACC were one of the founding partners of AIRCARE so they are really delighted we have developed the programme to provide comprehensive assurance.
Internationally, a range of work is under way. We will be building the image and reputation of the NZ industry throughout 2013 with an event in March at Heli-Expo in Las Vegas and a showcase event around the America’s Cup in San Francisco in July. We will look to use this brand material in other markets. From a market development viewpoint, we will continue the focus on China, India (October activity) and Indonesia (January and May activities) and leverage off the World Bank funded projects throughout the South Pacific.
We will also be rolling out activities around major customer relationships in some markets. This is primarily about providing higher value New Zealand solutions, where we see the continuing importance of collaboration. The collaboration concept is also giving some ideas as to how a number of existing customers can be serviced more effectively in future. This is something we will be talking to more of you about.
Relationships with government agencies continue to be important. While Ministry of Transport and CAA are vitally important, internationally, we are also using Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, NZ Trade and Enterprise and Education NZ, and will look to add some targeted work with Defence as well.
The next few months are an extremely busy period for the industry, so it’s particularly important to stay "risk aware" . As an industry, we do have a safety record that relies on each one of us staying very focused. Relative to many other 'safety sensitive' industries, we should be very proud of our achievements but never take safety as a given. We and you earn that record every day.
To each one of you your friends and family it has been a real privilege working for the Association and we look forward to the challenges and excitement 2013 will bring. We’ll be back on line talking to you on 25 January. The team will be back at work in Wellington on 7 January and the boots will be available on mobile if you need to speak.