A plan to modernise the aviation communications and navigation system in NZ has been announced today by the Transport Minister, Gerry Brownlee. Named the National Airspace and Air Navigation Plan, the system will enable the introduction of technological solutions to improve safety, emissions and journey times for travellers and operators in the aviation sector through the ‘Southern Sky’ initiative.
The NAAN Plan covers eight key elements of New Zealand’s aviation system, namely: navigation, surveillance, communication, aeronautical information management, air traffic management, airspace design, aerodromes, and meteorological services. Working with the FAA, the plan directive will aim to improve overall flight efficiency and help operators to manage the costs of mission critical transmissions.
“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”.
Some of the changes will require aircraft operators to make retrofit upgrades, which will mean investments in new equipment. It is hoped that a portion of these cost will be recouped through the efficiencies and lower operational costs as a result of the changes. Smaller operators and private pilots should receive consultations via the Plan and the CAA to ensure that the financial burden can be spread, with a smooth transition between what pilots and operators need in the short term and what they will need for future operations.
Changes to controlled airspace, a part of the Plan, will give private pilots the opportunity to fly in a bigger area without the need to retrofit their aircraft.