Pilots group backs case for night flights into Queenstown


An association which lobbies on behalf of airline pilots is supporting proposed changes required to enable night flights into Queenstown. 

The New Zealand Airline Pilots Association (NZALPA) has come out in favour of NZ and Australian aviation authorities which have approved in principle the foundation safety case for flights after dark through the mountainous approach into the resort. 

“NZALPA welcomes the associated package of safety improvements. Once implemented, these will improve safety at one of NZ’s most challenging airports for pilots,” a statement by NZALPA says. 

The Queenstown Airport Corporation must make 66 improvements to technology and infrastructure, costing up to $10 million, before night flights can go ahead. 

Requirements include widening the runway from 30 metres to 45m and runway and approach lighting. 

“NZALPA has long campaigned for much needed safety improvements at Queenstown and has worked closely with the CAA, Airways NZ (the nation’s and Queenstown’s air traffic control provider), airlines and Queenstown Airport in an attempt to implement these,” NZALPA technical director Rob Torenvlied says. 

“The widening of the runway, installing of an approach lighting system, improved runway lighting and installing of additional obstacle lighting are all most welcome improvements for pilots operating into and out of the airport. 

“Although these improvements are being made to facilitate night-time operations, they will, in addition, provide significant safety benefits for daylight operations as well.”