03 February 2011

Air National Suspended Again

New Zealand’s largest charter airline company has been grounded because of safety concerns. Air National – whose customers include Air New Zealand and the Corrections Department – has been handed a 10-day suspension by the Civil Aviation Authority, effective from last Friday. About 65 flights are expected to be affected by the CAA’s corporate air operating certificate suspension, The Dominion Post reports. The airline operates twice-daily return flights between Christchurch and Hokitika on behalf of Air NZ. The company has nine aircraft altogether. The reason for the suspension is because flight simulator training records for two pilots were wrong, possibly falsified. The CAA’s lawyer, Kim Murray, says this is not the first incident with Air National. “The applicant has an appalling history of non-compliance with minimum safety standards and suspension was inevitable when falsified training records were discovered,” Mr Murray says. However, the company’s lawyer, Sherridan Cook, said if that was the case then the CAA would have acted sooner. Justice Denis Clifford said it appears the company has responded satisfactorily to issues the CAA raised. The suspension has been left in place until 4.30pm today so the authority could appeal, after a High Court judge yesterday said the suspension should be lifted pending a full hearing of the case.

While Air National currently flies at least one flight a day to Hokitika, the announcement of Air New Zealand operating Bombardier Q300s to Hokitika seems to Herald the end of Jetstream services to the Coast, with the Air New Zealand website showing Hokitika receiving only Beech 1900 and Bombardier Q300 flights.

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