New adventure rules kick in

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A Queenstown hot air balloon operator says firms face a rush to complete reams of paperwork for new licences. 

As of today, the Civil Aviation Authority requires all new “adventure aviation” businesses to meet stricter safety standards. 

They must demonstrate standards and practices similar to those expected of small airlines before the CAA will grant operating certificates. 

Existing operators running skydives, balloon trips and paragliding and hang-gliding tandems – deemed the highest risk by CAA – are being given a six-month grace period to become certified. 

Microlight operations get 12 months and gliding companies get 18 months. 

Hugh McLellan, of Sunrise Balloon Adventures Ltd says: “It is quite a short time period. 

“We have six months to write our manual and exposition. 

“It’s a lot of paperwork but we’ve done some preparatory work, so should be able to make it. 

“The CAA is pretty helpful and has given lots of advice. 

“We’re operating under other CAA rules anyway so probably didn’t need it specifically but we have been included with all the other adventure aviation operators.” 

CAA’s John Lanham, a former leader of NZ Airforce’s Skyhawks aerobatics team, addressed about 50 operators at a Queenstown seminar on Tuesday, saying: “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, the only regulator in the world to introduce an adventure aviation rule,” Lanham says. 

“This brings adventure aviation right out into the open. It recognises it, encourages it and facilitates it.” 

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 of the new rules. 

The operators face a range of requirements including daily flight records and medical checks for pilots.