Milford air traffic services to stay

An Air Milford plane on the tarmac at Milford Sound with Mitre Peak in the background. Photo: ODT files

MILFORD Sound’s air traffic services are set to stay after it was deemed its level of service was needed for it to safely operate.

Last year, Airways launched a review of air traffic services at seven regional airports including the Milford Sound Piopiotahi Aerodrome and Invercargill Airport.

While there was no air traffic control at Milford Sound, it used the Aerodrome Flight Information Service instead.

This was used in aerodromes with low traffic levels.

On Sunday, the Civil Aviation Authority endorsed the aerodrome’s decision that service should remain.

In a press release, Airways said the review’s purpose was two-fold: to confirm the right level of Air Traffic Control was provided at the airports, and that appropriate agreements were in place for funding those services.

Airways chief executive Graeme Sumner said it welcomed the authority’s decision.

“We will work with the Ministry of Transport to continue providing the service that the CAA requires, and will now enter into discussions regarding the commercial terms of the service.”

CAA aeronautical services manager Sean Rogers said Milford Sound was an important component of domestic and international tourism.

“The bespoke elements of the aviation environment, such as its isolation, terrain, and rapidly changing weather conditions make for challenging conditions for flying and to operate an aerodrome,” Mr Rogers said.

He said the announcement would provide welcome certainty for the aviation community.

“Operators find that the flight information service provides them with invaluable updates about local weather conditions and other pertinent information to promote increased pilot situational awareness.”

The authority will engage with the Ministry of Transport as it works towards the qualifying certification of Milford Sound Piopiotahi Aerodrome for the first time.