Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
Date 15 May 2011

MEDIA RELEASE

For further information contact Communications Adviser:
Emma Peel
Tel: +64 27 272 3545

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Criminal Conviction Sampling

The Director of Civil Aviation, Steve Douglas, is disappointed at the NZ Air Line Pilots’ Association’s decision to take legal action in the High Court to stop the CAA from checking declarations about drug and alcohol convictions.

“The Association’s concerns appear to focus on the rights and privacy of individual pilots. My concern as Director of Civil Aviation is to ensure the ongoing safety of the travelling public.”

Pilots are required to voluntarily declare medical conditions and things such as drink driving convictions. The Civil Aviation Authority relies on these voluntary disclosures to assess whether pilots meet all the requirements to operate safely.

“Unfortunately, a few pilots may not make honest or complete disclosures. It is an obligation on all pilots and individuals to show that they are ‘fit and proper’ to operate in the civil aviation system,” Mr Douglas says.

As part of its safety monitoring role, the CAA checks the conviction records of a sample of pilots against its own records.

“The checks are undertaken to provide confidence that the person flying the aeroplane is fit and proper and can exercise the privileges of their licence safely.”

There are about 10,000 licensed pilots in New Zealand. Pilots are required to pass regular medical checks to keep their licences current, as well as declaring any drug and alcohol convictions. The CAA has introduced the sampling checks as a practical and efficient way of providing this assurance of safety. The scheme in part address some cases in which airline pilots did not declare drink-drive convictions.

“The CAA takes its aviation safety role seriously,” Mr Douglas says.

“The CAA has taken legal advice and is satisfied that the sampling process complies with the statutory requirements including the privacy issues the Pilots’ Association is concerned with."

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