We encourage everyone to report any accidents, incidents or other safety-related aviation concerns. This information helps highlight where risk is most concentrated in New Zealand's aviation environment.
To report an accident, freephone 0508 ACCIDENT (0508 222 433) 24-hours, 7 days.
Or go online: Report occurrences online(external link)
Or send complete the appropriate reporting form and send it to us.
Anyone can report an ‘aviation related concern’. You don’t have to be involved in the aviation community to report something you see or hear that you think might harm aviation safety or security, or that might even be breaching Civil Aviation Rules.
Report an aviation safety concern online; or
call: 0508 4SAFETY (0508 472 338) during office hours. After hours, you can leave a message.
Or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
The minimum acceptable heights for flying are laid out in a group of rules called ‘Part 91’. Briefly stated, the minimum height an aircraft is allowed to fly over a city, town, or settlement, is 1000 feet above the highest obstacle, except when taking off or landing. Generally, 1000 ft is the height at which aircraft are flown within the circuit of an aerodrome.
The minimum height over any other area is 500 feet. There are exceptions, such as aircraft flying within a low flying training area, in agricultural aircraft operations, during emergencies, and when the genuine purpose of the flight requires the aircraft to be flown at a lower height – such as during a police operation. Note that although rescue and police operations are sometimes carried out in specially marked helicopters, they can be carried out in any aircraft.
Some people contact us to complain about noise from aircraft. If you think the aircraft is noisy because it’s flying too low, it may be breaking civil aviation rules. In that case, go to report an aviation related concern.
Sometimes people complain about noise produced by an aircraft, but the flight is, in fact, legal. (That means the aircraft is flying at or above the minimum allowable height – see previous section 'Low flying'). If there’s no threat to aviation safety, we can do very little about noise alone.
If the flight is legal but you believe the aircraft operator isn’t taking enough care to reduce noise for residents, you can contact the aircraft operator concerned directly, or go to Raise a health or safety concern(external link).
Before you do, try to note the aircraft’s registration. It will be three letters (sometimes two on a helicopter), and sometimes preceded with 'ZK-'.
If you know the registration, you may be able to find the operator’s name from our aircraft register.
If you can’t see the name of the operator on the register, you can ask for it by emailing email@example.com.
Auckland(external link), Paraparaumu(external link), and Wellington(external link) also have a curfew to mitigate the effects of aircraft noise. If you think an aircraft is flying in breach of those curfews, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about aircraft noise, see Worried about aircraft noise?
Condensation trails (contrails) are formed by the condensation of water vapour emitted from the exhaust of aircraft flying at high altitude.
For more information: Aircraft trails
The CAA often receives complaints between August and November about a foul smelling substance being splattered over people’s properties. The residents have asked whether this substance has come from an aircraft toilet. The results of tests and expert opinion indicates it comes from waterfowl species flying overhead.
For more information: Aircraft effluent claims
From September through to November, (or even early December) helicopters are used for frost protection at some vineyards. This can cause concern about safety and noise for neighbours.
These operations, however, are normal under the Civil Aviation Rules.
For more information: Helicopter frost protection
Being struck by a laser beam is a huge distraction to flight crew and poses a serious threat to safety. Laser strikes can leave pilots with momentary flash blindness, where visual interference persists after the laser beam is removed. There can be ‘after-images’ left in the visual field after the light is moved away. Sometimes the effects can take days to pass.
Possessing a high-power (an output of more than one milliwatt) laser in public, without a reasonable excuse, can land someone in jail for up to three months or with a fine of up to $2000.
Pilots in New Zealand have been hit by laser beams so powerful that one that was confiscated proved strong enough to, at close range, burn through items.
It’s not just large air transport aircraft being attacked. Each year, the Eagle police helicopter suffers multiple laser beam strikes. Hits in New Zealand have also been reported on small commercial aircraft, private aeroplanes and helicopters, and sport aircraft.
Reported incidents of laser strikes on aircraft more than doubled between 2014 and 2018 – 102 to 240, one strike every 36 hours. In 2019 this dropped slightly to 237. Even in 2020 - the year of the COVID-19 lockdown - there were 140 reported strikes on aircraft.
If you’re a member of the public and see a skyward-bound laser beam, after calling 111, email email@example.com (‘isi’ stands for ‘inward safety information’) and give us as much detail as you can.
If you’re flight crew, rules 12.55 and 12.57 require you to report because a laser strike is “an immediate hazard to the safety of an aircraft operation”. It’s relatively straightforward to report. Just call the 24-hr number 0508 4 SAFETY (0508 472 338) then complete a CAA800 Laser Beam Exposure Questionnaire form [PDF 24 KB].
The more information the CAA gets from the public and flight crew about laser strikes, the more it can pinpoint where the peaks of laser strikes are occurring and at what time of year. It will also help the CAA, together with other agencies like the police, develop some solutions to this growing menace to safe aviation.