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Pilots' union welcomes 'conviction' ruling


Thursday 14th July 2011

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The Airline Pilots’ Association (NZALPA) has welcomed yesterday's High Court ruling that random sampling of pilots' conviction records by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is unlawful and must stop.

NZALPA president Glen Kenny said today the ruling was a solid win for pilots in the protection of their statutory rights, although he was disappointed they had to go to court in the first place when there were lawful alternatives available to the CAA.

The High Court decision gave strong guidance to the CAA director on the power he has to lawfully seek records from other agencies, Mr Kenny said.

"Our members have no issue with disclosing relevant convictions to the CAA and they are already required to do that. It was the random sampling without just cause used by the CAA in obtaining the information, which our members should not have been subjected to," he said.

In his ruling yesterday, Justice Stephen Kos found the CAA’s method was illegal He also noted that the information sought was far beyond what was necessary for the CAA to decide if a pilot was a "fit and proper person" to hold a licence.

The court ruled that any information obtained should be "relevant" to making a fit and proper person assessment, not convictions for minor offences or those not relevant to holding a pilot licence.

NZALPA members hae an inherent interest in aviation safety and wanted to work with the CAA to ensure the highest standards of safety for the flying public, Mr Kenny said.

But, being subjected to an unlawful process which breached members rights had damaged that relationship.

"We look forward to engaging with the CAA in the future to see if we can find a way that will allow CAA to have confidence in the robustness of its process that can be achieved in a lawful manner," he added.

The CAA said last night the ruling would prevent it from using a particular section of the Civil Aviation Act to randomly sample pilots' conviction records. It said CAA director Steve Douglas would review the judgment and consider the options available.

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