16 February 2013

Closing the Door on NZ Aviation History


It looks as if the ownership details on the New Zealand aircraft register have gone for good... I found this on the CAA website this morning

Information about aircraft ownership history is no longer available for searching on the CAA web site.

This action follows a recent Privacy Act complaint made by a member of the aviation community. The CAA has accepted a recommendation of the Privacy Commissioner to change the way in which access to that information is now obtained.

Access to information about previous aircraft ownership must now be made by request. You may request access to this information by emailing oia@caa.govt.nz, or writing to the address below.

Coordinator Official Information
Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
PO Box 3555
Wellington 6140
New Zealand

It will assist the CAA to process your request in a timely manner if you detail the aircraft you are enquiring about and explain what information you require.

Below is some of what I posted on this blog the 8th of December... 

Of late I have been working on posts regarding the history of two early airlines that operated to Gisborne, Dominion Airlines and Gisborne Air Transport. As part of that I have been looking again at the Leo White’s book Wingspread. This early New Zealand aviation history is really the story of not only planes but also people. It strikes me this has always been the way in the New Zealand aviation community.

As I wander around the airports and airfields of New Zealand I have met so many interesting people who have only been too happy to share their own interest in their aircraft or the companies they own or work for. My own interest is particularly in the New Zealand’s small airlines. Since starting my blog I have had a number of emails from people and numerous comments from people who I have met who have enjoyed what I have tried to put together of the past and appreciated that I am trying to get the news of what has been happening today as today’s news is tomorrow’s history.

With the New Zealand airline scene there is not a lot of sources of information. One of the major sources of these was the New Zealand civil aircraft register. This made available the aircraft details and ownership details. In recent months the historical ownership details were removed. In recent days the current ownership details were removed after a complaint/complaints were made to the Privacy Commissioner. This is a huge loss to the aviation community and especially to those who record aviation news and history.

Of course I can understand the concerns of the person(s) who made the complaint(s). Their full names and addresses were readily available and from what I understand this led to unsolicited mail and email. But then again, none of us are immune from this… we all to varying degrees get plagued by telemarketers, spam emails, and many, like myself, because of the position I hold, end up getting mail, emails and telephone calls from others who use the public information for an end to which it was not intended. To an extent this is a fact of life of the communication age.

On the other hand the question that should be asked is, “Is it in the public interest for this information to be released?” For the good of the public, the answer is no. For the curiosity of the public, or those members of the aviation community who are interested the answer is yes. The Privacy Act is well intentioned and rightly seeks to protect people’s privacy. However, it does, I believe, inadvertently have the effect of destroying the bonds of community. The decision by the CAA’s interpretation of the Privacy Act will have a sad impact on the aviation community and the recording of aviation history because it will separate planes from people. Such privacy issues are joining the ranks of OSH and security issues in making it harder and harder to an armchair aviation enthusiast.

Ideally I would have liked to have seen CAA continue to put the register out with a simplified ownership details, for example an initial, a surname, a town/district/city. Hopefully that would have mitigated a lot of the concerns. Where once I would have labelled a photo “Whitianga based Cherokee ZK-ABC…” or “J Blogg’s Piper Cherokee ZK-ABS…” now it will be just “Cherokee ZK-ABC.” One wonders if I should purge all names and company names from my blog?

The outcome today is sadly not just about information, it is about community.



  1. Given the financial predicament of the CAA (?), you would think they would grab the opportunity for a paid membership to be able to access the information and thereby vet those that have access at the same time.
    Access to Electoral Rolls etc online are done that way.

  2. A reasonable idea, although the CAA's 'financial predicament' was exacerbated by its move to a fancy downtown Welly address.

  3. Would you want your name and address details published for all to see, just because you own a car?


    Now do realise its not entirely comparable to being paid a visit because you cut someone up on the road, and they looked you up, but just because I own three aircraft, doesn't mean I'm rolling in it.

    Having that info public puts me at risk of someone thinking I do and one day, checking out the house of a rich prick that owns three planes!

    Could be far reaching too as why should the will of Paul Holmes be published for all to read today.

    Its no-ones business, but due an antiquated law, means its public.

  4. I have just found out that yet again common sense has prevailed.NZCAA has allowed access via internet the NZ Cival register update.reading the previous comment,99.9% of aviation enthusiasts are not interested in where owners live,but just to know where the aircraft resides at an airfield and the person or company that operate it.Please dont let the American disease destroy common sense in NZ.