Airport makes use of quiet time

Auckland International Airport is bringing forward its runway pavement replacement work while operations are at a minimum during the Covid-19 outbreak. AIAL said on 11 May it had experienced a significant reduction in flights and passenger numbers, with aircraft movements currently 90–95 percent lower than a normal busy day.

“This project has been planned for some time, but it was clear that we had an opportunity to bring construction forward to the earliest available time while runway movements are at an all-time low.”

Construction began at the end of May and will last eight to ten weeks for the $26m project, using a displaced threshold method with the existing runway being shortened by 1.1km and aircraft continuing to operate while work is carried out safely on the main 3635m runway. At the airport’s opening in January 1966 the runway was 2590m long, with an extension to its current length carried out in 1973.

Under normal circumstances there could be a need for airlines to reduce aircraft weight, but AIAL does not anticipate this with fewer fully laden aircraft flying. The project is a critical component of Auckland Airport’s much-reduced infrastructure development programme over the next couple of years, one which prioritises selected capital projects focused on essential safety and asset maintenance.

The airport says these were originally planned to accommodate passenger numbers that were projected to double by 2044. “It’s extremely disappointing to put on hold much of the $1.2bn worth of construction projects already underway around the precinct prior to the Covid-19 outbreak. But with no certainty around when the aviation market will recover, it just isn’t realistic to keep progressing these projects at this point in time.”

The outbreak of Covid-19 and the re-duction in flights, particularly with large long-haul aircraft, presented an opportunity to have another look at the proposed construction windows....

Airline returns to regions under level 2

After seven weeks of uncertainty and what it calls “hibernation” Air Chathams gradually relaunched scheduled flights from its Auckland Airport base to Whakatane, Whanganui and the Kapiti Coast from 24 May.

Airline management have been working with the district councils to agree on a way forward that allows the airline, which has suffered a 90 percent drop in revenue during Covid-19, a lower-risk way to reinstate flights while the demand and confidence to travel by air return to the domestic network.

Flights did not stop between the Chatham Islands and its mainland New Zealand ports throughout levels 4 and 3, because the island air link was deemed an essential lifeline service and funded through the Aviation Support Package.

Under level 2, passengers are once again able to book flights to the Chathams using the airline’s website and call centre. While following MoT guidelines, including social distancing on flights, Air Chathams has also implemented a strict level 2 PPE and hygiene policy which includes increased aircraft cleaning and free hygiene packs for all travelling passengers, including a face mask to be worn on flights.

Air Chathams staff and the company’s owners, the Emeny family, have been overwhelmed by the messages of support throughout the Covid-19 lockdown. They are all hoping that goodwill will in time result in more normalised travel patterns, especially as the country works towards a trans-Tasman bubble with Australia.


Auckland Is wreckage recovered

The Marine Countess has landed the wreckage of the BK117 which crashed just off Enderby Island on 22 April during a medical evacuation. The wreckage is now stored in a secure facility at Bluff Harbour and will soon be conveyed to Wellington for examination by officials from TAIC.

Sweeping changes proposed

The New Zealand government proposes sweeping changes to the country’s aviation sector regulations, ranging from damaged or lost luggage compensation, drug and alcohol management and the assessment of airline alliances to making it an offence to harm or assault an aviation security officer’s dog

The overhaul is part of a new Civil Aviation Bill announced on 10 May by Transport Minister Phil Twyford. The current bill, which seeks to combine the Airport Authorities Act 1966 and the Civil Aviation Act 1990 and currently runs to about 400 clauses, is expected to be introduced to Parliament within the next 12 months and passed in mid-to-late-2020.

AOA sensor grounds Cirrus jets

The FAA last month grounded all 117 Cirrus Vision SF50 jets through an emergency AD prompted by Cirrus reporting three incidents on its Model SF50 of the stall warning and protection system (SWPS) or electronic stability and protection (ESP) system engaging when not appropriate.

Cirrus senior vice president of sales and marketing, Ben Kowalski, said the manufacturer immediately began working with the FAA and the company’s internal teams to determine the root cause of the problem.

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