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Guest column by John Nicholson, Aviation New Zealand

Picture of John Nicholson

John Nicholson

Aviation New Zealand / Chief Executive


Aviation NZ was established as an industry association in 1950 to encourage the safe growth of the aviation industry in New Zealand.  Today, it has over 300 members.  Member expertise includes advisory services, air operations, aircraft design and manufacture, aviation training, general aviation, maintenance/repair and overhaul, airport development and UAVs.

“We aim to lead, inspire and grow the New Zealand aviation industry”

We aim to lead, inspire and grow the New Zealand aviation industry.  We do this by encouraging collaboration, focusing resources and reducing constraints.  Much of our work is done in New Zealand, working constructively with the Civil Aviation Authority and other government agencies to improve the ways in which our members can do business.  We also work with many companies in the growth markets of Asia/Pacific where our ‘industry-wide’ and neutral view can help inform prospective customers and reinforce efforts of individual companies.

Our major event is the Annual Aviation Leadership Conference.  This is being held 25 to 29 June 2016 in Wellington.  Themed ‘Meeting tomorrow’s challenges and succeeding today’, we expect around 250 industry participants from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the United States and parts of Asia.  The conference includes a Gala Dinner to recognise the industry’s high achieving individuals and companies, as well as a trade show.

The conference provides an opportunity for all our divisions: NZ Agricultural Aviation Association, NZ Helicopter Association, UAVNZ, Supply Services and Engineering, Training and Development and Operations (covering airline operations, tourist flight operators) to get together.

With 4748 aircraft registered in New Zealand, including 868 helicopters, for a population of 4.6 million, New Zealanders are exposed to aviation every day.  Given the challenging topography and population in a country that is slightly larger than the UK and 2/3 the size of Spain, we lack the extensive motorway and fast rail systems found in many other countries.

However, New Zealand is ideally suited to aviation.  New Zealanders were developing flying machines at the same time as the Wright Brothers.  Our first pilot training school opened in 1915, domestic airmail services started in 1921, aerial topdressing began in 1947 and helicopters gave easy access to fabulous but remote locations.

Today, there are 198 locations at which aircraft can take off and land – 38 airports with scheduled services, 34 ‘other’ airports with the remainder being primarily heliports and helipads.

New Zealand companies now export products and services to over 100 countries on all continents.  Our companies are referred to by customers as practical, responsive and professional.


John Nicholson
Chief Executive
Aviation New Zealand



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