Queenstown was one of the first places in the world to introduce RNP-AR flight procedures. All four airlines that fly here operate their jet services under these rules. They use the most up-to-date aircraft navigation systems, they have undergone extensive testing by Civil Aviation authorities, and their pilots are specially trained to fly very precise paths. This means there is far more regulatory oversight of flights into Queenstown than into most other airports around the world. Years of aircraft tracking data show very little deviation from the RNP-AR procedure. If poor weather or turbulence could force minor deviations from the flight path, aircraft are required to go around. It’s a safety-first decision.
Queenstown was one of the first locations in the world to establish a radar surveillance system among mountainous terrain. Air Traffic Control can see any aircraft deep in mountainous valleys far beyond the boundaries of controlled airspace. This ensures far better aircraft information and separation.
CLASS C AIR SPACE
The airspace around Queenstown is Class C – the same classification as applied to airspace around any other major airport in New Zealand or around the world. This ensures exact and greater separation zones around larger aircraft.
After-dark flights into Queenstown, enabled by very precise navigation systems, began in 2016. A rigorous safety assessment process conducted by airlines is still enforced today. And if the electricity fails at night, our back-up sources ensure a continuous uninterrupted power supply, so the runway lights don't even blink.
MONITORING THE WIND
Another safety innovation introduced by Queenstown Airport is the network of data collection sites used by airlines and Air Traffic Controllers to monitor wind around the Whakatipu Basin. The sites range from Morven Hill near Lakes Hayes to Deer Park Heights on the Kelvin Peninsula; there are three different sites at the airport alone. Wind is constantly assessed and the information gathered provided to pilots to allow them to make better-informed decisions.
ICE & SNOW
Grooves in our main runway drain away water and help prevent the formation of ice. However, if a big freeze does set in or snow falls, we have a fleet of specialised equipment to sweep the runway and clear it away. Our runways are subject to multiple checks a day and these are increased if there is any potential they could be affected by bad weather.
ENGINEERED MATERIALS ARRESTING SYSTEM
The next safety feature we are considering is the installation of EMAS at either end of the runway. In the unlikely event an aircraft overshot the runway, the EMAS would quickly and safely bring it to a stop. We would be the first in Australasia to install this technology, although it has been successfully implemented in Europe and North America.