Aviation factions face off over airstrip rules


Rule changes planned for Queenstown airstrips might affect flight training and safety, a veteran pilot and instructor says.

Carlton Campbell, who has been flying for more than 46 years, has warned Queenstown’s council over proposed changes to limit the movements of fixed-wing aircraft at airstrips known as “informal airports”.

He told a district plan hearings panel yesterday: “Often neglected in occasions such as this district plan process is the fact that pilots don’t just appear qualified out of the blue with the skills, competence and currency to operate on airstrips.

“The training required is extensive and ongoing.

“It requires, among other things, training experience in various seasonal weather, loading and different aircraft types.”

At present, flights from informal airports are unrestricted. But the council wants to reduce noise nuisance on neighbours with a proposed 500m setback from building platform boundaries and limits to the number of flights allowed per week.

Campbell says the availability and accessibility of airstrips is essential to the “safety and the life-cycle of aviation at all levels”.

Restricting the number of movements a day is not conducive to safety, he says, because competence is very rarely achieved in two movements.

However, tourism giant Skyline Enterprises and subsidiary company Totally Tourism agree with the council’s approach.

Consultant planner Sean Dent says the proposals are a significant improvement on the status quo.

“I understand a number of submitters believe the proposed limitations on flights for private rural zone land to be an impedement to their current use.

“With respect, if these submitters can prove existing use rights, the proposed provisions have no effect on them.

“Alternatively, if no existing use rights apply, then the provisions are again an improvement on the status quo.”

Dent agrees with limiting flights saying the “banking” of flights will lead to breaches of noise regulations.

“A lot of the annoyance with the aircraft noise comes from an anxiety of not knowing how many flights are going to come per day.

“I believe from a large proportion of the community there is a novelty factor in watching small aircraft operations … but there’s a particularly vocal faction of the community that would have, I’d say, almost a zero tolerance as well.

“It really is a balancing act between those two parts of the community.”

Otago Daily Times