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Big savings due from aviation overhaul

HAMISH MCNICOL
Last updated 05:00 17/06/2014

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More than US$4 trillion (NZ$4.61t) will be spent upgrading global aircraft and air traffic control systems in the next 30 years.

And last night New Zealand's own airspace and navigation plan, New Southern Sky, was launched, to ensure the country's aviation sector flies alongside the global pace. The changes are expected to cost $37 million, but with ultimate savings of $2 billion.

The plan, led by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), with support from MetService, Airways Corporation and the Ministry of Transport, has set out a decade of changes for the aviation sector.

It was crafted on the tail of global aviation standards and requirements implemented by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, of which New Zealand is a member.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee said despite significant advances in aircraft technology, the country still relied on post-World War II navigation, surveillance, communications, air traffic control and information technology.

"The National Airspace and Air Navigation Plan sets a pathway to modernise all aspects of our aviation system and position it for the future."

He said that was vital as the aviation industry was responsible for more than 99 per cent of the country's international visitors.

One of the most significant changes would be a move from land-based systems to space-based satellite navigation and surveillance, which would require new technology both on the ground and in aircraft.

The plan would bring nearly $2 billion in national economic benefits, through increased fuel savings, lower aircraft operating costs, and lower capital expenditure for airline operators.

More than 10 million passengers travel to the country every year.

Airways Corporation general manager system operator Pauline Lamb said globally, US$4t would be spent buying new aircraft and upgrading air traffic control and safety systems during the next 30 years.

"We need to ensure we stay on the leading edge of using technology ."

The plan would enhance air traffic management systems with new weather information, and use satellite technology to refine more efficient routes.

"That's again good for the environment because it burns less fuel, so it's more cost efficient for the airlines, therefore should translate into costs savings for passengers," Lamb said.

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