Thu, Sep 01, 2011
Aviation Groups Warn $100 Annual Cost May Impact Safety
In the US, the federal government subcontracted weather
briefings to Lockheed Martin a few years ago, but kept them free to
pilots. In New Zealand, the Civil Aviation Authority has pulled its
funding for the briefings, and pilots now have to pay $100/year to
get them. Since the change took place on August 1, the number of
pilots subscribing to the service, called Metflight, has dropped
from 5,000 to 277.
TV New Zealand reports aviation groups in that country are
concerned the trend will lead to more general aviation accidents,
since weather is a causal factor in one-in-five mishaps there.
TVNZ quotes recreational pilot Evan Wheeler, who says he'll get
his weather from more generalized forecasts available free. "It's a
matter of principle from my perspective, I consider as a taxpayer
I'm already funding the government to supply those services. The
cost of flying is increasing all the time and it's getting beyond
the pocket of a lot of retired pilots, and younger people not
wanting to get into the industry or recreation because of the sheer
Don Ryder of the New Zealand Aviation Federation urges pilots to
reconsider. "You look at the costs of search and rescue exercises
and they run into millions straight away and here we are talking
about tens of thousands of dollars to contribute towards an
important safety issue to avoid this sort of thing."
Bill Sommer of the CAA commented, "I find it surprising that
people are willing to fly around in a quarter million dollar
aircraft and not be willing to meet their safety responsibilities,
and pay $100 a year to get a very, very good MET product."
Winter is nearing its end in the Southern Hemisphere, and the
CAA believes more pilots will resume using the service as summer
nears. But, if they don't? ONE News was told by Metservice that if
the number of subscribers remains low, a rate increase beyond the
$100 fee is not off the table.
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