Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
Date 23 April 2015


Contact Mike Eng, CAA Senior Communications Advisor:
Tel: 04 560 9527, or 027 5181671
Email: mike


CAA supports Carterton balloon accident inquest findings

The CAA supports the intent of the recommendations made by the Coroner in his findings into the 2012 Carterton balloon accident that were handed down this week.

Director of Civil Aviation Graeme Harris says the CAA is committed to improving aviation safety in New Zealand.

He says the CAA will consider the recommendations carefully, and make appropriate changes to improve safety where this is within its powers.

Graeme Harris says the Coroner’s recommendation for alcohol and drug testing in aviation is in line with the CAA’s long standing position on drug and alcohol use.

“We have zero tolerance for drug and alcohol impairment in aviation and support any moves Government may make to mitigate this risk through stronger regulation.”

Under CAA rules pilots must remain grounded if impaired by drug or alcohol use. Since 2005 the CAA has advocated for alcohol and drug testing in aviation.

Graeme Harris says there have been several changes to the way the CAA operates which have improved adventure aviation safety in New Zealand since the accident.

“These improvements were made in response to investigations undertaken by the CAA, an independent reviewer and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission.”

All adventure aviation operations, including commercial hot air ballooning and other activities including tandem hang-gliding and paragliding, must now comply with Civil Aviation Rule Part 115, which requires a level of safety similar to a small airline.

“This regulation requires operators to have a drug and alcohol programme acceptable to the CAA. Any regime that does not require regular testing of staff involved in operations would not be accepted by the CAA,” he says.

Part 115 operations are also subject to regular safety audits by the CAA.

“While we think that Part 115 is doing a good job, we welcome any moves by Government that support our zero tolerance of alcohol and drug impairment.

“The CAA is encouraged that the Ministry of Transport has been recently consulting on Clear Heads, a discussion paper on options for reducing the risks of alcohol and drug related impairment in aviation, maritime and rail,” Graeme Harris says.

How the civil aviation system works in New Zealand (PDF)