Noise won’t be problem pilot

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Queenstown Bay floatplane

A pilot who’s planning amp­hibean floatplane sight­­­-seeing out of Queenstown Bay claims his aircraft is noise-friendly.

South Africa-based Kiwi Brent Collins has applied for consent to fly a De Havilland Beaver to Glenorchy and back up to 13 times a day.

He’ll taxi away from a floating pontoon at St Omer Wharf.

Floatplane noise has been a contentious issue for communities overseas, such as in Alaska. In recent years, residents’ complaints over floatplane noise have threatened a long-running business on Alaska’s Willow Lake.

But Collins states prop­eller speed, which generates most aircraft noise, is slower on a Beaver than a Cessna 206, a type flown to Milford Sound.

A modification to the three-blade propeller would reduce noise even further. “We strongly feel the Beaver is the most suitable aircraft for Queenstown, where noise is such an important issue.”

It will cost about $670,000 to import a six-seater Beaver from North America and fit it with amphibious floats so it can also land on the ground, Collins says.

A pilot-instructor’s son, Collins was brought up in Blenheim and flew solo in a Piper Cub he co-owned at the age of 17.

After four years managing pubs in London, he got his commercial pilot’s licence in the United States before following his South African partner to her home country 10 years ago.

Since then the 36-year-old has worked as a crop-spraying pilot all over Africa.

He got the idea for a Queenstown floatplane operation while holidaying here four years ago.

Collins intends bringing his wife and two young kids over in October and hopes his consent will be in place to start flying by early summer. “I love South Africa and the work I do, but it’s not home.

The consent application from Collins will be publicly notified after regulatory quango Lakes Environ­mental obtains further information.