CAA Speeches
at the Aviation Industry Association (AIA) Conference

Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority to the AIA Conference, Auckland, 20 July 2007

Good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen, and thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.

Although this is the first AIA conference that I have attended, I am well aware of the important role it plays each year in developing a cohesive industry voice on the issues facing your businesses.

As you know, it is now just over eight months since I accepted the role of chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority.

In that time, I have presided over the departure of former Director John Jones, who led the industry for four years.

A six-month interim Directorship, ably held by former Chief Executive of Maritime New Zealand Russell Kilvington, and most recently, the appointment of a permanent Director of Civil Aviation. Steve Douglas.

Steve represents the first internal appointment made to the role for many years. This despite an international search which provided many good candidates from UK, Hong Kong, and Australia.

The past several months have also been characterised by changes at Authority level.

This year two new members joined the Authority, following the retirements of deputy chair Hazel Armstrong and authority member Robyn Reid.

A vote of thanks is owed to both Robyn and Hazel for the service they have given the Authority over the years.

And I am sure their replacements hardly need introduction.

Deputy Chair Errol Millar is a professional management consultant and a former Chairman of Airways Corporation.

He was the first Executive Director of the Aviation Safety Board that was set up following Erebus, and is also a former Secretary of the Transport Advisory Council.

Captain Ross Crawford retired recently from Air New Zealand after 34 years and 20,000 hours. Ross has also been a Walsh Memorial Scout Flying School instructor for the past 18 years.

With Ross and Errol's appointments, I am confident that the Authority, which also comprises businessman Darryll Park and lawyer Susan Hughes QC, contains an appropriate mix of operational expertise, business, and governance experience.

You will note that I have not highlighted the Authority's management experience. That is quite deliberate.

As a professional director, I have sat on many boards, and can assure you that one mistake often made is when a board starts to try and manage an organisation.

A board's role must be governance.

Our role is to provide an overarching strategic direction, build relationships with the powers that be, and ensure that the resources are available and the organisation is suitably equipped to do its job.

Having determined the strategy we (in conjunction with the CEO set benchmarks and key performance indicators that will enable us to monitor progress.

The leadership of management must always come from the CEO / Director and it is the strength of that leadership which determines how well an organisation works.

It was particularly pleasing to me that the Authority was able to unanimously appoint Steve Douglas as Director and CEO of Civil Aviation this year.

His reputation and experience were, of course, well known at first hand.

Steve has most recently relinquished his role as General Manager in charge of the CAA's Government Relations Group.

He has been a CAA senior manager for the past 12 years variously in charge of aviation rules and policy development, international relations, certification and safety monitoring.

He is a former aircraft design engineer, and has a Master of Science in Aircraft Design from the Cranfield Institute of Technology.

Steve is owed much of the credit for the CAA's recent successes on the international aviation scene, including the signing of a Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement with the United States Federal Aviation Administration, with its ongoing technical additions.

Steve offers that rare blend of technical expertise, management ability, experience, and integrity.

The Authority has thoroughly reviewed the CAA's mission and purpose, and as a result, we have been overt in our primary directive to our new Director.

The CAA priority is to ensure safety in the aviation environment on behalf of the public.

Steve has been very clear in confirming that this is the direction he intends for the CAA.

He has the full support of the Authority.

Thank you once again for your time ladies and gentlemen. I would like to hand you over now to the Director of Civil Aviation, Steve Douglas.

Director of Civil Aviation to AIA Conference, Auckland, 20 July 2007

Thank you for that introduction Rick, and good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak before so many key members of the aviation industry so early in my tenure as the Director of Civil Aviation.

This conference has for many years been an important fixture on the CAA's annual calendar. Each year several CAA staff members commit the time to attend, and I have been pleased to contribute to it myself over the years.

I consider the AIA to be an important organisation, giving voice to a significant cross section of the aviation industry. Commercial aviation has been a feature of the early development of New Zealand and today it is key to our country's economic success. A feature of our industry today is its diversity and innovation.

As Rick has said, I have been with the CAA for a long time, combining a technical background with management experience. During that time I have been part of the development of the CAA and its safety policies and systems. I intend today to reflect a little on that experience, and on some of the factors that have most significantly affected the way we manage aviation safety in this country today, and on the direction and priorities that I intend to set for the CAA from now on.

The most significant changes, of course, began in 1990 with the acceptance of the Swedavia McGregor report, the passing of the Civil Aviation Act, the beginning of the Civil Aviation Rules rewrite project, and the recertification of participants under the new Rules.

The regulatory model adopted by New Zealand is soundly based, and it has stood the test of time. My international relations experience has shown that there are three main elements to achieving mutual recognition agreements with overseas authorities. These elements are:

  • the regulatory system and its backing in legislation and rules,
  • the performance of that system and the levels of safety achieved under it, and
  • the relationships formed by the regulator.

I have already acknowledged the strength of our system, and as New Zealanders we have an easy ability to create good working relationships at all levels. It is the middle element – the performance of the system – that I will be paying attention to during my tenure as Director. This is the area where I believe improvements need to be made to ensure that the system operates in the intended way.

There have been a number of reviews of the CAA conducted over the last few years, some quite critical as you know.

The Auditor General and the Christchurch Coroner have criticised the way the CAA carried out its certification and monitoring roles.

And the ICAO audits in 2006 concluded that while our system is a good one, with strong and positive relationship with the industry, there is work to be done by the CAA to improve consistency and levels of performance.

In recent times, the CAA has been criticised for being too close to industry, and of having become overly reactive. I believe that this is true, and that it has been to the detriment of the CAA and to the aviation system as a whole.

The public wants a competent and effective safety regulator that will act in the public interest. It must be seen to be free of undue influence exerted by the industry that it regulates or any sector interest. From time to time the CAA must hold the industry to account for performance that falls below an acceptable level of safety, and this is what the public and parliament expect of us.

The industry today is in good shape. Activity is increasing and accidents are decreasing. So my changes are to shift emphasis and to re-prioritise, to make adjustments to improve the operation of the system and ultimately the levels of safety achieved under it. Much good work has been done, and is being done by the CAA and the aviation community and I want to build on that.

Since becoming Director, I have set out my programme and priorities for the CAA to our staff. My first priority as leader is to provide clear direction and a sense of purpose to the organisation, and this task is underway.

My intention here today is to provide you the industry with the same clear picture of my expectations and guiding principles.

The CAA's primary focus is the safety achieved in the civil aviation system. For the CAA and everyone who works there it means having a clear understanding of what our job is, why we do it and who we do it for. Our customers are the travelling public and all who use the services the aviation system provides.

As regulator, the CAA must ensure that only those organisations that fully meet the safety requirements set by the Civil Aviation Rules are allowed to operate. It is also in your interest that this is so.

I want to emphasise the importance of the CAA's core functions of entry certification and safety monitoring, and to ensure that we do them well. The most important of these functions in my view is entry control. It is at the entry control stage, more than any other, that the participant's, as well as the CAA's attitude to compliance is most clearly demonstrated and future behaviour is set.

There is plenty of evidence that the CAA's entry certification processes need to be more rigorous. If an applicant does not meet all the requirements at entry into the system, it will be more difficult to do so once operations commence. My message to our operating groups is that if full compliance has not been shown the applicant is simply not ready to enter the system. CAA staff know they have my full support when it becomes necessary to hold that line.


Over the last year the CAA has been working on three major projects that will enhance the CAA's functions of certification, surveillance, and risk assessment. These projects are designed to increase the efficiency of these processes including the use of new technology to capture information and data in the field.


In parallel with this I am advocating a shift in approach when it comes to the conduct of audits, to increase the effectiveness of audits as a safety monitoring tool. The routine audit and inspection should be the primary source of information about the state of compliance of individual participants, and ultimately of the safety of the system. There are a number of factors at play here. However that requirement cannot be satisfied by an audit of a medium sized organisation conducted by one CAA auditor in half a day. I am discussing with the operating groups ways to increase the effectiveness of audits, including longer duration visits involving larger audit teams. Such an audit conducted once in 2 years will be far more useful than two ineffective audits in the same period. The CAA's risk assessment systems will be used to determine which organisations should be visited first.

I have also signalled that in order for the CAA to meet its strategic objectives it needs to make much better use of the safety information it gathers. The way the CAA collects, manages and uses safety information will determine how well it can do its job.

In the past, the end use of the data has tended to depend on how it was collected, and by whom.

We are now looking closely at how we gather information, analyse it and then act upon it. In future these activities will be guided by clear policies, rather than structural or other artificial boundaries, to ensure that the CAA has available to it the most complete information on which to base its regulatory actions and decisions. Those safety information policies will progressively be published on the CAA web site as part of my commitment to openness and transparency in our relationship with you.

Recent changes to the CAA organisation structure will bring together regulatory functions in a way that is consistent with these policies and strategic objectives.

The new structure, which came into effect this week, is fundamentally similar to what you have known most recently. The three main operational groups remain the Airlines Group, the General Aviation Group, and the Personnel Licensing and Aviation Services Group, with the latter including the aviation security team and a new addition – the Health and Safety in Employment Unit.

A change is the creation of a new Safety Information Group. This Group will include the functions of safety investigation, enforcement investigation, safety analysis and communications and safety education. The bringing together of these functions in one group and the clear policies governing them will ensure the CAA collects and uses safety information more effectively for its safety purposes.

Two other groups are the Business Support Group, headed by Tim Bowron, and the existing Government Relations Group which adds the business planning and reporting activity.

No address by the CAA – or me for that matter – would be complete without mention of Rules.

The new rules process is now well established and the various participating groups, notably the Aviation Community Advisory Group, are settling into their work. The CAA recently shared with ACAG some charts showing rules output over the last seven years – the size of the programme, the number of new projects added each year, and the project milestones achieved in each year. While the charts show an upward trend in Rules output it is our aim to lift this output significantly over the coming years.

The principal brake on output is lack of resources at the CAA. I don't mean money - but people to do the job. The CAA has had difficulty recruiting suitable Rules Project staff over the years and still does. We are competing in a marketplace that contains fewer and fewer people and our operating groups report the same difficulty. No doubt you do too in your industry sectors. This is a problem that we will have to solve to allow a necessary improvement in performance.

I have also set the CAA's relationships as a priority issue. Establishing and maintaining good working relationships is so very important because, ultimately, that is how things get done.

Each of us, the CAA and the industry participants operating in the civil aviation system, has our own role to play in achieving safety in the system. Those roles are different, but complementary. Neither the CAA nor industry has all the information required to address safety issues, so we must collaborate to achieve safety improvements – in the development of Rules, through safety education and information programmes, training, and the investigation of safety issues. There are many excellent examples of that cooperation in our daily interactions with our industry clients, including the sessions held during this conference.

In signalling more focus on the entry and monitoring functions, I am pointing up the importance of the CAA's relationships with its industry clients. It is vital, though; that these relationships are based on a mutual understanding of the different roles we each play. While our staff members routinely provide support to participants, in the form of information and advice, the CAA is not in the business of assisting organisations to limp through the system if they are not willing to shoulder their responsibility for operating safely.

The CAA will also continue to work hard to be competent and reliable in our relationships with the Minister, parliamentary select committees, and the public.

Our relationships with these stakeholders are important because they provide the basis for cooperation and assistance when assistance is required to address regulatory issues outside the control of the regulator. Examples are legislation and transport policies that affect how the aviation system operates.

I have outlined to our staff the three values I will promote in all our dealings as a regulator.

These are independence, integrity and professionalism. I have called for openness and honesty in all dealings, both internally and with the industry. I expect all staff members to support their colleagues by taking individual responsibility and by doing their jobs well.

Much has been made of the importance of an aviation safety culture. And rightly so in my view. I believe that this safety culture must be evident within the regulator. I want everyone to see the CAA as an organisation that does what it does for the right reasons and where the core values of the organisation extend to every member of the staff. I want that to be the basis for the way we interact with the industry, and I would expect no less in return from you.


Internationally, our reputation is excellent and well established. This is evidenced by the number of mutual recognition agreements that have been concluded in recent years, some of them quite unique:

  • In 2006 we signed a revised Airworthiness Agreement with the United States Federal Aviation Administration that accepts repair designs approved under the New Zealand system and some modifications to large aircraft.
  • The airline AOC mutual recognition arrangement with Australia has come into being, and a New Zealand operator is already operating under the arrangement in Australia.
  • Last month I signed a full Technical Arrangement on Maintenance with Transport Canada that covers maintenance activity under a Part 145 certificate. The CAA will be talking to industry shortly to provide details of the new Arrangement.

New Zealand's international status as a safe place to fly was recognised in the announcement last year by the Flight Safety Foundation that Oceania, – Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands – remains by far the safest place in the world to fly on a large airliner.

But improvements must be ongoing. A project was begun last year to determine what resources and capabilities the CAA is likely to need in the future, and to identify any shortfalls. The first phase of the project concluded that work needed to be done to ensure resources are more appropriately allocated to support the strategic direction and priorities of the CAA. Improvements are being made in this direction first before considering detail funding and resource requirements.

I would like to end this presentation by reiterating Rick's words this afternoon. I have been given a clear mandate by the Authority to lead the CAA. I intend to do this, with the support of my Executive and with your help, to the best of my ability.

I look forward to continuing a productive and rewarding relationship with industry in the interests of aviation safety.

Thank you very much.

Director's Awards Speech AIA Conference, Auckland, 2007

Many thanks to John Funnell for the opportunity to present these CAA awards at this AIA Awards Dinner, a dinner which is a fitting conclusion to another very successful and enjoyable Conference.

The Director of Civil Aviation Awards are presented annually to the individual, and to the company or organisation, that demonstrates a safety ethos that is apparent – those that go out of their way to do things the right way.

The awards reward an attitude towards safety, and the direct actions or series of actions that have resulted in a greater level of safety.

They recognise and reward the individual and organisation that encourage others to adopt a similar safety culture and philosophy – that recognise that safety is everyone's concern – and that aviation can be safe only when individuals and organisations accept their safety responsibilities.

However, before I present the Director's Awards I want to present an award that was presented for the first time two years ago in Christchurch – the CAA Flight Instructor Award.

We decided to present this award to recognise and raise awareness of the importance of flight instruction to aviation safety. The response to the announcement and presentation of the award first in Christchurch, and then in Rotorua last year, and the number of nominations that we have received in the past three years suggest that we have definitely raised an interest in flight instruction amongst the wider aviation community.

The winner of this year's CAA Flight Instructor's Award is to a person whose contribution to aviation as an instructor has been at GA and Airline level, and has extended beyond the cockpit into areas such as Instructional Techniques, Human Factors, Crew Resource Management, and ATPL theory courses. He has also provided significant input to ASL and the CAA at syllabus and exam level.

An ex Air Force pilot with experience spanning helicopter and fixed wing flying from microlights to Boeing 747-400's, this year's recipient provides leadership and example, as a Flight Examiner and as an instructor from ab initio through to professional licence level.

He is an excellent instructor role model for the entire aviation community, with the culture that he encourages made clear from his often heard comment – “we don’t want to hurt anyone out there”.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to award the 2007 CAA Instructor's Award to the CFI of the Walsh Memorial Scout Flying School, Mark Woodhouse.

The winner of the Director's award to an individual this year is the Chief Executive of an aviation organisation who has the leadership style of a guiding mentor – providing staff with responsibilities in a measured and managed way, to develop their growth and maturity, while expecting them to maintain high professional standards.

She has a positive committed attitude to aviation safety that is apparent to all who have contact with her, and even though running a demanding and busy organisation, she has demonstrated her belief in the principle of ‘giving something back to the industry’ by her commitment to the Training Division of the AIA. As the Chair of the Division during a particularly busy period which has included the development of the ‘Code of Practice’ and working with the CAA in syllabus development, she has made an enormous contribution aviation and aviation safety in New Zealand, and earned the respect of all of the industry.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to award the individual Director's Award for 2007 to the Chief Executive of the Nelson Aviation College, Penny MacKay.

The winner of the 2006 Director's Award to an organisation is one that many in this room will have supported, sponsored or participated in as instructors or as students.

When it started in 1967, no one would have anticipated the significant effect it would have on the New Zealand Aviation Industry. From its small beginnings, to the present, it has trained well over 12 hundred and 50 potential aviation industry employees. Around a quarter of the students have continued in aviation, either with a career in the industry, or as a hobby.

Many past students are now airline pilots flying for major airlines around the world; air force pilots; or members of one of the many aviation professions such as Air Traffic Control, Meteorology, or Aviation Engineering.

The School is open to members of Venturer Scouts and Ranger Guides, and other youth groups, and is designed to develop an interest in aviation as a vocation or sport. The school commemorates Leo and Vivian Walsh, the New Zealand aviation pioneers who constructed one of the first aircraft to fly in New Zealand, and who started New Zealand's first flying school, at Kohimarama in 1914.

The 42nd School in 2008 will see about 20 aircraft and more than 60, 16 – 18 year old students attend a 2-week intensive aviation training experience at Matamata Aerodrome. Students live alongside their aircraft and in every sense of the words, eat, sleep, speak and live aviation. Such a high intensity operation with so many students provides an environment where one mistake can have very serious consequences, so safety is the essential cornerstone of all training and operations.

All staff members at the School voluntarily donate their time and expertise, and highly qualified instructors from throughout New Zealand provide individual instruction in accordance with a detailed, industry standard programme designed by the School's operational staff.

The School's culture can be summarised in a quote from its Flight Operation Manual, a Manual that all participants live by, as reflected in their safety results in 40 years of operation:

“The effective application of the principles of safety in aviation requires all those involved to have a sense of responsibility, good judgement, and the ability to sensibly and effectively apply their knowledge, experience, and common sense”.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am very pleased to present the Director’s Award to the Walsh Memorial Scout Training School.