Read recent examples of airspace occurrences below.

Occurrence number: 23/2666

Date: 16 April 2023

Time: 10:15 NZST

Location: Near Darfield

Airspace: CH CTA/C

Nature of flight: Private X-country

The aircraft briefly flew into a 1500' sector of the CH CTA/C without a clearance, near Darfield while flying a direct track from NZAS to NZOM.

The direct track near NZCH has the following CTA sector restrictions, not above; 5500', 3500', 2500' and 1500'.

The aircraft inadvertently entered the 1500’ sector of airspace without a clearance, however the pilot soon realised and immediately vacated the CTA.

The pilot (and his instructor) have since analysed the error and advised CAA of several preventative safety actions intended to reduce the chances of repetition. They are:

  • continuous monitoring of the flight, especially when near controlled airspace;
  • writing down altitude restrictions on the flight log; or highlighting them on the VNC maps;
  • avoid using the 'direct to' function without additional planning consideration, such as proximity to, or airspace restrictions; and
  • planning routes to avoid controlled airspace (for example NZAS-Oxford-NZOM only has 3500’ and 5500’ sector restrictions).

Subsequently the CAA accepted the pilot’s safety actions and did not investigate this occurrence further, beyond thanking him for his report and his proactive engagement with the CAA.

Occurrence number: 22/6687

Date: 31 October 2022

Time: 12:30 NZDT

Location: Oamaru (NZOU)

Airspace: Unattended aerodrome occurrence - Class G airspace

Nature of flight: Private

A dual training flight landed on grass runway 02 at Oamaru and was backtracking on the runway, because there is no associated taxiway. A Cessna 185 that had joined long final was then on short final for grass 02.

The taxiing aircraft expedited its taxiing to avoid a possible conflict. However, the C185 flew over them and landed late on the remaining runway. After the incident the C185 pilot allegedly told the instructor he didn't want to carry out a go-around because he thought there was enough runway left to land safely.

The CAA investigation pointed out to the C185 pilot that he had breached several rules by continuing to land on an occupied runway, and that a go-around was his last 'legal' option. The alternatives such as orbiting or slowing down earlier (if safe) were also discussed, as they may have prevented him from having the occurrence in the first place, or that he could have joined long final for sealed runway 36 instead, as the other aircraft was landing ahead of him on grass 02.

The investigation suggested to the QA manager of the other operator that having their pilots add the words 'will need to backtrack on runway 02', or words to that effect, to a downwind or a long final radio call, may help following pilots realise that a separation conflict may develop and that they need to safely plan for such an possibility.

It is noted that this is not the only aerodrome or airfield in New Zealand where this scenario may occur.

The investigation was closed because the pilot is now fully aware of the relevant rules and what the appropriate and safer options are in the future.

Occurrence number: 22/343

Date: 23 January 2022

Time: 1417 NZDT

Location: Ardmore (NZAR)

Airspace: NZAR circuit

Nature of flight: Private and training

The pilot of a Van’s RV-7 carried out a go-around and then had a near collision with a Piper PA-28 as they were both in the downwind leg. A passenger in the PA-28 saw the RV-7 and warned the pilot who took immediate avoiding action.

The RV-7 was returning to NZAR from NZWT and was joining a relatively busy circuit. Traffic included another RV-7, a Harvard, several other 'GA' aircraft and a Challenger 605 that broadcast it was soon to join straight in for 03 via Karaka. The RV-7 turned base leg when the Challenger was on a 4NM final. When on short final the RV-7 pilot elected to go-around as he was aware the Challenger was close behind him. The near collision event occurred just after the RV-7 turned downwind.

The CAA investigation noted the following contributing factors:

  1. Speed: The RV-7 (and another RV-7 a few minutes ahead of it) both entered the MBZ at speeds of over 150 knots (approximately) and both only slowed down below 120 knots in the vicinity of their respective base legs. Neither aircraft complied with the following NZAR AIP speed requirement - 'Airspeed not to exceed 120 kt or minimum safe cruising speed if greater than 120 kt'.
  2. Joining: The PA-28 did not accurately follow the AIP NZAR 'preferred' arrival procedure (from the east). It flew from Clevedon almost directly to NZAR and was therefore well inside the position intended for joining downwind. The NZAR AIP wording is as follows, 'Track via east of Clevedon then track towards Waterworks to join wide of crosswind leg to join downwind at 1100 ft'.
  3. Radio calls: The RV-7's go-around call and the PA-28's joining downwind call crossed over each other. Neither call was repeated, which deprived an opportunity to enhance situational awareness. An opportunity to potentially negate the earlier go-around was also lost as neither the Challenger or RV-7 pilot spoke directly to each other. Instead they relied on general broadcast radio calls.

The operator of the PA-28 conducted an internal investigation and introduced new measures to address their role in this occurrence while the CAA communicated directly with the RV-7 pilot.

The CAA reminds pilots that:

  • published procedures in the NZAIP Landing Charts are required to be complied with, as per Part 91.127 (b) (1).
  • safe speeds should be flown when operating in MBZs as they are areas identified as having increased numbers of aircraft movements.

Occurrence number: 22/1311

Date: 04 March 2022

Time: 02:45 UTC

Location: Hokitika

A Hokitika aerodrome runway inspection officer heard a King Air making radio calls within the MBZ and that it was on final for runway 03. The officer then happened to look at final approach for runway 30 and saw a light aircraft on final for that runway too. He had not heard any radio calls from that aircraft, so he used his radio to alert the King Air crew of the conflict and they immediately executed a go-around.

The officer approached the light aircraft pilot after the aircraft shut-down and inquired about the absence of radio calls. It was at this time that the pilot realised he had used his 'out-of-date' AIP and therefore the wrong frequency. He had used the old frequency (119.1) rather than 119.8 which is the correct frequency (in Feb 2022). This was despite having current maps and using a 'popular' navigation app on his phone.

The CAA investigation found that the pilot has since updated his hardcopy AIP and is having ADS-B fitted in the aircraft later this year. He will also pay more attention to his flight planning in future.

A similar incident has happened since this one and it appears that some pilots, when using navigation apps on mobile phones, may be zooming in to see more map detail but by doing so, inadvertently moving other information off the screen.

The CAA is currently focussing on incidents where a lack of flight planning or insufficient flight planning has led to occurrences.

Occurrence number: 21/5136

Date: 12 September 2021

Time: 03:45 UTC

Location: Matamata

A light aircraft lined up and took off while a glider was landing. Neither crew member of the light aircraft saw the glider or heard any radio calls from it, while the glider crew did not hear the light aircraft advise it was lining up. The front seat glider pilot reported he saw the light aircraft when it climbed up ahead of him as he was about to land.

The investigation found that an inadequate lookout by the light aircraft crew before entering the runway was a primary factor in this occurrence. The absence of any radio calls also reinforced their belief there was no circuit traffic. The investigation also noted that the light aircraft’s 'line up call' was of a much lower transmission strength than its previous radio call, which may have contributed to it not being heard by the glider crew.

Another identified factor was that the glider’s 'front seat' radio transmit button had an intermittent fault, and therefore its radio calls were not heard.

The light aircraft operator now further encourages the need for pilots to thoroughly scan final approach for any traffic, especially those that may be flying a different approach path or NORDO aircraft, before taxiing on to a runway.

The gliders front seat radio transmit button has since been replaced.