22 November 2019

The issues our smaller regional airports face

I found this article interesting...

The decision to close a grass runway at Hood Aerodrome, following a double-fatal mid-air plane crash, has been retrospectively endorsed by Masterton councillors. The runway was closed by the council chief executive on November 13 following an independent review of safety at Hood Aerodrome. Skydive Wellington pilot Joshua Christensen and Wairarapa Aero Club member Craig McBride died after their aircrafts crashed mid-air near the aerodrome on the morning of June 16. Both were Masterton locals. The Civil Aviation Authority [CAA], police, coroner and Transport Accident Investigations Commission [TAIC] are investigating and the council called in Mike Groome, who has long been associated with Taupo Airport, to review the operation of the aerodrome - a separate exercise to crash investigations. Groome said the aerodrome was a wonderful piece of paradise and a nice country airfield and should remain that way. His report found it was well run but made recommendations to improve operations, all of which were accepted by both the council's Audit and Risk Committee and full Council on Wednesday. He spoke in detail about the issues of joining queues in the air and of taxiing and landing when there were multiple runways, likening it to roundabouts and roads in the air. He also spoke about the difficulties of running parachute operations at small aerodromes where there was no air traffic control.The discussion was all general and about identified risks, not in reference to the crash. He noted the aerodrome was non-certified. He said it was an expensive process to move to certification, but it would be needed if either Air NZ or Air Chathams ever operated planes with more than 30 passengers in the future. A certified airport had a chief executive, an operations manager, and a safety assurance manager, and the chief executive was the holder of the operating certificate. Hood currently has a part-time manager. Groome suggested moving toward having a Safety Management System and the Audit and Risk Committee and Council voted to accept a recommendation to do this while noting it was not required for a non-certified aerodrome. The closure of the small grass airstrip eliminates the risk of a non-standard arrival or departure. Groome also suggested the aerodrome upgrade its weather information system which would allow messages to be broadcast, including messages notifying when parachuting operations were occurring. Planes should not overfly aerodromes when parachuting operations are happening as sky divers could be coming in to land. The closed runway is one of three parallel runways at Hood. It is the only one of the three with a clockwise landing circuit, the other two run counter-clockwise. More safety meetings and binding memorandum with users are also recommended. Plus, it is recommended to amend published aerodrome procedures with respect to taxiways.

1 comment:

  1. Brave words "The closure of the small grass airstrip eliminates the risk of a non-standard arrival or departure"

    Closing a strip doesn't eliminate anything, it at least reduces the risk, but it's not really quantifiable.