New air traffic management systems are planned for New
Zealand, replacing decades-old technology, promising to cut
flight times and save the aviation industry up to $2 billion.
While more direct routes will mean more noise on new flight
paths, quieter planes could mean noise is cut overall.
The National Airspace and Air Navigation Plan, launched last
night by Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee, said that during
the next two decades the aviation sector could save nearly
$1.98 billion through fuel savings, lower aircraft operating
costs and lower capital spending.
The 10-year New Southern Sky plan will move the aviation
system away from post-World War II radar to extensive
satellite tracking, although ground-based radar would not be
removed completely because of concern about relying too much
on new technology.
Advanced transponders will be required for all aircraft in
controlled airspace within eight years.
The Civil Aviation Authority is leading the project and said
increased use of satellite tracking would not necessarily
find aircraft in an emergency such as in the case of
Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.
However, the CAA and international authorities were reviewing
tracking systems and changes could be implemented.
A risk assessment of the plan found that while the overall
environmental impact of changing aircraft routes was positive
because of shorter flight paths, there could be resource
management issues as some people on the ground would notice
more noise, an issue that created controversy during a trial
at Auckland Airport.
"The plan contains provision for more guidance for airport
owners and councils on managing environmental effects at
aerodromes," the assessment by Castalia Strategic Advisors
Greater reliance on satellite technology increased risk in
the event of a failure and Castalia said the plan provided
for contingency systems for both navigation and surveillance
to ensure that all aircraft could return to the ground safely
and service could be maintained on the main trunk routes.
The firm has estimated it would cost $37 million to implement
the plan although airlines and other operators might have to
spend more to ensure their equipment was compatible with the
It also warned that with significant changes in technology
there was an increased risk of human error during the
Castalia said there had been a heavy focus on training and
education to help pilots and engineers make the transition.
The plan also said communications would remain primarily by
VHF voice in domestic airspace but satellite communication,
data links and internet protocols would be introduced.
Paper-based charts and publications would be digitised and
potentially become available in real-time, in cockpits.
Off the radar
*Air navigation will move from ground-based radio navigation
beacons to a system using the precision of satellite
information, performance-based navigation.
*This will require aircraft operators to have special
equipment, procedures and training.
*Changes to surveillance will reduce reliance on radar.