Aviation Cases

Civil Aviation Authority v Roderick Gunn (CIV-2011-059-000314) D Ct Queenstown, 7 March 2013 

Airline Captain - Careless operation s43A Civil Aviation Act 1990 - Flight from Queenstown to Sydney departed less than half an hour before Evening Civil Twilight - Low cloud/visibility conditions - Convicted, fined $5,100 (maximum fine $7,000) and subject to a number of conditions relating to further ground and flight training.


Director of Civil Aviation v Air National Corporate Limited [2011] NZCA 3

Judicial Review - Successful appeal against High Court decision granting interim injunction against decision of Director of Civil Aviation suspending Part 119 Air Operator Certificate - Suspension reinstated pending full hearing of judicial review or concurrent appeal lodged - High Court should be cautious in exercising discretion to grant inunction in cases where right of substantive appeal exists, and legislative provisions prevent stay of decision pending hearing of appeal (as existed here) - judicial review not a back door method of circumventing legislative appeals process - Accepted Director needs "serious" and "imminent" concerns to take suspension action - but Director entitled to be cautious - no obligation to investigate first before exercising power to suspend - decision based on information known at the time.

Click here to read our articles comparing the statutory suspension regimes in New Zealand and Australia, and our comments regarding the need for legislative reform of the New Zealand suspension powers.


Shahroodi v Director of Civil Aviation [2011] NZHRRT 5 (25 February 2011)

Director of Civil Aviation revoked pilot licences - CAA failed to provide full and timely disclosure to pilot of all relevant information held - successful claim in Human Rights Review Tribunal for damages; decision on costs reserved pending outcome of substantive proceedings challenging decision to revoke licences.  

CAA attempt to appeal decision statute barred - filed out of time - click here to view the High Court decision. 

It is understood the substantive challenge to the revocation of Mr Shahroodi's pilot licenses has now been dismissed by the District Court.


NZALPA v CAA (CIV-2011-485-954), High Court Wellington, 20 June 2011 

Legal challenge against validity of the random search of pilots' criminal conviction records by the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand - specific statutory authority relied on to conduct the searches was invalid - searches were unlawful - decision supports view that other sections of Civil Aviation Act may facilitate random searching of criminal records - interpretation of some of the legislative provisions raises some questions. 

Unsuccessful appeal by CAA - decision affirmed - but some aspects of High Court interpretation of legislative provisions clarified - click here to read Court of Appeal decision.


Andrews v Director of Civil Aviation [2010] NZCA 505 

Legal challenge against decision to impose conditions on Class 2 medical certificate preventing carriage of passengers, towing gliders and flying over built up areas - Director's view that a historic stroke more than 15 years earlier posed undue risk to aviation safety - Legal argument over whether Director could rely on same information previously assessed by Medical Examiner in issuing medical certificate without conditions - Court of Appeal ruled Director could in principle rely on same information - issue is whether Director had reasonable grounds to do so. 

Case remitted back to District Court to determine whether the Director had "reasonable grounds" to impose conditions - conflicting medical opinions - pilot holds unrestricted Class 2 medical certificate issued by United States FAA - Court held Director entitled to form view he did in reliance on his medical advice and opinons, appeal dismissed.  Click here to read the District Court decision.


Jones and Civil Aviation Safety Authority [2010] AATA 795 (15 October 2010) Student pilot with alleged past history of alcohol and drug related offences, and drug use - denied medical certificate by CASA - upheld by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia - evidence supporting allegations including convictions and previous admissions - concern about applicant's current denial of previous drug use - lack of evidence of rehabilitation. 


Hazleton and Civil Aviaton Safety Authority [2010] AATA 693 (10 September 2010)

Airline pilot - sufferred head injuries as a result of a random assault - denied Class 1 medical certificate by CASA to fly "as or with co-pilot" - unnacceptable risk of post-traumatic epilepsy (PTE) 18 months after the accident - overturned by Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia - concluded that risk of PTE below 1% - remitted back to CASA to consider what if any conditions to impose on his medical certificates. 


Smith v Attorney-General (on behalf of the Civil Aviation Authority and the Minister of Transport) 18 September 2008   

Judicial review - decision of Director of Civil Aviation revoking  hang glider certificate and ratings - alleged pattern of dangerous or reckless flying behaviour - argued that a hang glider is not an aircraft and Rules governing handgliders were invalid and ultra vires - argued in the alternative that the decision to revoke certificate and ratings was in breach of natural justice and influenced by bias or predetermination - all arguments dismissed - also noted that existence of a right of appeal to the District Court (not exercised in this case) would have weighed against the exercise of the discretion to grant relief - correct process to challenge substantive decision should be through right of appeal

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