Nelson's smile high club

19:51, Jun 13 2013
Nelson Control Tower
SAFETY WITH A SMILE: The Nelson Control Tower has won a national award for the "friendliest" air traffic control crew.

Nelson air traffic controllers are the country's friendliest and most helpful, and they have the award to prove it.

President of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Ian Andrews and long-serving life member Brent Ferguson yesterday presented staff at the Nelson control tower with the trophy for the "friendliest tower" from 15 around the country.

Mr Ferguson was able to back the decision from a field of several nominations after his own experience of 45 years of flying in and out of Nelson.

He said the award was based largely on the interaction between pilots and air traffic controllers.

"They can do their job and be unfriendly, or they can do their job and be indifferent, or they can be nice.

"All control towers in New Zealand give a good, standard service but there are ones that go the extra mile," Mr Ferguson said.


He said there were several nominations for the award, first presented in 2010 and for which Nelson has been in the running in the past. Last year it was won by the Paraparaumu flight service.

Mr Andrews said the Airways New Zealand air traffic control system was extremely good.

Mr Ferguson said he had flown in many parts of the world, and the control staff in New Zealand were "the best".

Chief air traffic controller at the Nelson tower, Adam Arnold-Kelly said the control tower crew was "very, very proud" of the award.

He said air traffic controllers loved their job, and operated in a culture where workload management was a top priority.

The AOPA is the largest, non-commercial general aviation group in the country and has around 900 members.

Each year its life members vote on recipients for awards proposed by members throughout the year, including the friendliest tower, best "watering hole", best maintenance shop and several others.

The best maintenance shop was won by Sounds Aero Maintenance based at the Omaka airfield in Blenheim.