CAA investigating Originair operator Air Freight NZ over safety concerns

An Originair Jetstream 31 on the ground outside the Originair hangar at Nelson Airport.

An Originair Jetstream 31 on the ground outside the Originair hangar at Nelson Airport.

Safety concerns have seen the grounding of Originair branded planes at Nelson Airport.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) corporate communications spokesperson Mike Richards said it was currently investigating Originair's operator Air Freight NZ after safety concerns were brought to its attention.

Richards said the CAA had restricted the operating certificate of charter service Air Freight NZ Ltd

Temporary conditions which restricted its ability to conduct flights for Originair had been placed on Air Freight NZ's aircraft operating certificate while those safety concerns were investigated.

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Richards declined to comment further on the nature of the safety concerns or when the temporary conditions limiting Air Freight's certificate were enacted.

He said the CAA "do not disclose details about an active investigation [but] suffice to say that we had concerns that warranted the steps we took".

Originair is operated by Air Freight NZ, which is in turn managed by Fieldair Engineering Ltd.

Fieldair's general manager Mark Troughear said the safety concerns at issue were "very specific to the particular operation" of Origin, but declined to comment on their nature.

"We're not at liberty to talk about that outside of the CAA," he said.

An Airwork metroliner now being used by Originair at Nelson Airport.

An Airwork metroliner now being used by Originair at Nelson Airport.

"The operation involves a whole lot of aspects. There's a number of things there that the CAA may look at."

He did not believe the safety concerns were related to Originair planes, he said.

He said the limits on Air Freight NZ's operating certificate did not affect any of its other commercial operations, which include an air ambulance.

"There will be a small amount of costs that Air Freight will be absorbing while it can't operate," Troughear said, noting the inevitable cost of aeroplane fuel and airways.

Richards, of the CAA, said Originair had contracted another operator, Airwork NZ Ltd, to conduct its flights while the CAA undertook the investigation.

Originair stopped flying jetstream aircraft in its operating colours 10 days ago, instead using two unmarked Airwork NZ metroliners, owner Robert Inglis said.

He and general manager Michael Curry said they were not aware of any issues with Air Freight's operating certificate.

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Inglis said "any issues between the CAA and Air Freight are between them".

"The CAA wouldn't tell me about that because it's not my business."

He said the decision to transfer its operation to Airwork, described by Curry as "like moving from Vodafone to Telecom", was primarily due to the operator's greater range of available aircraft.

Inglis said the airline had considered changing operators in the new year and hoped to complete the transfer of its aircraft to Airwork in the next few days.

He refuted any suggestion that the recent operator changeover was prompted by Air Freight's limited ability to conduct flights for the airline.

 - Stuff

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