Commercial air travel in the Pacific is now safer and more reliable following the completion of a four-year programme improving air navigation across the region.
The Pacific Aeronautical Charting and Procedures (PACP) project upgraded decades-old flight approaches and aviation charts at 39 airports across nine Pacific countries. It also designed satellite-based approach procedures to improve the ability of aircraft to land safely, especially in poor weather.
The safety of aviation is vital to the economies of Pacific Island countries, which rely on the aviation sector for tourism, trade and connecting people and families between islands.
The PACP project was a joint effort between the New Zealand Aid Programme (managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade – MFAT), Airways International (with their subsidiary Aeropath) and the Governments of Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Niue, Nauru, Kiribati, Samoa, Tonga, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.
Pacific leaders identified a need to maintain and upgrade the region’s aviation services, and this was backed up by Airways’ research in the early stages of the project.
MFAT’s Development Manager for Transport David Weinstein said the Ministry and Airways had partnered to improve aviation safety in the Pacific since 2013.
“The PACP project will hugely improve aviation safety in Pacific countries, and is another example of how working in partnership can achieve tangible improvements for the region.”
Airways International CEO Sharon Cooke said the PACP project was a critical step in the organisation’s commitment to achieve the same standard of aviation infrastructure, service, customer value and safety across the Pacific, as that provided in New Zealand.
“We are proud to support our Pacific neighbours to deliver solutions and infrastructure that enhance safety for commercial air travel,” Ms Cooke says.
The $3.02 million project also included accurate surveying of runways and terrain to identify and remove obstacles (such as trees and buildings) that could encroach on flight paths.
Andrew Valentine, Pacific Aviation Safety Office General Manager, thanked the New Zealand Government for “providing this support to the Pacific Islands in need of these very specialised aviation services.”