Published date: 16 June 2023

The Civil Aviation Authority has launched a nationwide safety campaign – Work Together Stay Apart to reduce the likelihood of mid-air accidents and the number of near collision and air proximity events within the circuit at unattended aerodromes.

The safety campaign is the first of its kind at this scale. Operating alongside business-as-usual safety education, inspections and industry guidance, the campaign is a coordinated set of activities targeted at increasing shared understanding of standardised procedures among pilots, improving aerodrome management and safety, and collaborating with operators to promote best practice.

“The loss of life because of unsafe or inconsistent operating flying practice is unacceptable. Safety is paramount and a safe and secure aviation system is a shared responsibility. We want to work with the industry in a collective effort to prevent further tragedy” said CAA Chief Executive and Director Keith Manch.

“It’s our regulatory role to lead the way in promoting best practice to increase safety and help prevent accidents. Considering the fatalities between 2008 and 2019, and the number of near-miss incidents, I’d say we need to do more.”

Seven people have been killed in mid-air collisions at unattended aerodromes since 2008 and critical near-miss incidents have increased every year since 2016. Three accidents caused the fatalities: at Hood Aerodrome in 2019 when two aeroplanes collided, killing two; at Paraparaumu in 2008 when a light aeroplane and a small helicopter collided, killing three; and at Feilding in 2010 when two aeroplanes collided, killing two. These accidents highlighted the need to standardise flight procedures, enhance the see and be seen principles, and to work together as an aviation community to manage risk of airborne conflicts.

The safety campaign will span a two-year period with initiatives such as seminars for industry participants, working groups to address specific issues, educational material and dedicating the entire Summer 2023 edition of CAA’s Vector magazine.

The safety campaign follows extensive information gathering to establish a comprehensive picture of actual practice, and to determine the likelihood of reoccurrences. This was spurred by increasing occurrences of critical near misses, recommendations from CAA’s Aeronautical Services Unit, and concerns raised by participants at a Canterbury aerodrome. The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has also investigated and made a number of recommendations in response to the three fatal accidents.

“There were 13 critical occurrences in 2022 and three more already this year – those are near miss events where there was only one remaining safety barrier preventing collision and disaster” said Deputy Chief Executive Aviation Safety, David Harrison.

“When we investigate an incident or accident, we’re focused on determining cause and responsibility, with a consideration of enforcement. But to connect the dots of similar incidents or accidents you need to zoom out and examine the periphery.”

The CAA acknowledges that this campaign takes a different approach than the industry may be used to, but it is part of a focus on being an intelligence-led risk-based regulator and preventing further tragedies.


CAA media team contact

027 763 0000 |

Additional information

CAA web page: Work Together Stay Apart

New Zealand aviation at unattended aerodromes, by the numbers

  • 161 unattended aerodromes, including heliports
  • 2,200+ aircraft owned by non-certificated owners, which includes all aircraft types except non-microlight sport-aircraft (gyrocopters etc)
  • 8000+ individual pilots across all licence types; not including microlight/gliding certificate holders


The following terms are explained, using plain English, to assist the reader. As such, they do not constitute legal definitions.

Air proximity event: a situation where safety of aircraft is believed to be compromised due to the distance between them as well as their relative positions and speed; excludes near collision events

Airborne conflict: any situation where there is a perceived risk for collision between aircraft whilst in flight

Barrier to collision: safety measures that decrease the risk of collisions between aircraft, such as a traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS), See and Avoid, or Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS-B)

Unattended aerodrome: an aerodrome that doesn’t have an air traffic service. Although many small aerodromes are always unattended, the term unattended also applies to other aerodromes with air traffic services, when they are off-watch.

TAIC reports of the three fatal accidents mentioned

Hood Aerodrome accident 2019  AO-2019-006 | TAIC(external link)

Feilding accident 2010 AO-2010-008 | TAIC(external link)

Paraparaumu accident 2008 AO-2008-001 | TAIC(external link)