New CAA rules for air thrills firms

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SKYDIVE firms, balloonists and paragliders in Queenstown have six months to meet strict new safety standards or stop operating.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) rules covering all commercial “adventure aviation” come into force on Thursday.
 
It means firms offering airborne thrills are required to have similar safety standards and practices to small airlines.
 
Operators deemed to have the “highest risk” must be certified by May next year.

These include tandem skydive operators, hot air balloons carrying passengers, hang gliders and paragliders.
 
Microlights have a year to comply, while glider operators and aerobatic flights have 18 months.
 
CAA’s John Lanham says: “The concept of risk in adventure aviation is in the mind of the ticket buyer and not in the operation itself.
 
“We are to my knowledge is the only regulator in the world to introduce an adventure aviation rule.
 
“This brings it right out into the open. It recognises it, encourages it and facilitates it.”
 
Lanham, a former leader of NZ Airforce’s Skyhawks aerobatics team, was addressing about 50 operators at a Queenstown seminar on Tuesday.
 
The seminar was held to explain how to complete the reams of paperwork needed to comply with CAA rule part 115 – Adventure Aviation – Certification and Operations.
 
The CAA anticipates it will issue about 50 certificates, costing about $7,600 each, within the first year.
 
The operators face a range of requirements including daily flight records and medical checks for pilots.

In September, Mountain Scene reported that some paragliders, such as veteran pilot Dominic Eller, were predicting the costly new rules will put smaller operations out of business.