NZ’s longest-serving air traffic controller to accept AOPA Award
The year was 1965: Holyoake was PM; Ray Columbus was all that; NZ had just signed a Free Trade Agreement with Australia (excluding apples of course!) and Peter Lund-Jackson began training to become an air traffic controller. Fast-forward 45 years and Lund-Jackson is still ‘talking down planes’ at Queenstown airport and before he hangs up his headphones for good later this year, he’ll take his place as one of NZ’s longest-serving controllers.
Lund-Jackson’s career has spanned both decades and continents. As well as working on position in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and currently Queenstown, he was also one of the first NZ air traffic controllers to work in the profession overseas, in Fiji, Bahrain and Oman. He’s witnessed significant changes in technology and air traffic management over the past four-and-a-half decades and has been involved in the odd hijacking – though purely in a spectator role.
“When I worked in Bahrain we had to deal with the odd hijacking out of Iran. That was when the Ayatollah Khomeini was leading the Iranian revolution in ’79.”
Lund-Jackson was one of the first controllers on position in Queenstown when Airways established the control tower there in 1993. Whilst there have been some significant changes at the airfield in the ensuing 17 years, Lund-Jackson says the style of traffic has remained pretty much the same.
“Queenstown is a complicated airfield with very high runway usage. On a good day when flights are able to access Milford, we can control 500 movements a day. We have to juggle the needs of the commercial fleet with those of the general aviation community and do it all in an operating envelope dictated by the weather conditions at the time.”
From domestic 748s to ANSETT Whisper jets, trans-Tasman traffic, helicopters, tourists, parachutists and the occasional illegal base jumper, Lund-Jackson has seen it all in Queenstown. His voice has soothed many a nervous flier and he is a well-respected figure in the aviation community. Next week, on behalf of Airways, he will accept the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Award which acknowledges the Queenstown control tower as NZ’s best.
“It’s very fitting that Peter should be the one to accept the Award on behalf of Airways. He is a well-known and respected member of the aviation community here in Queenstown and he has done much to engender a professional yet friendly atmosphere for many visitors” said Jules Tapper, veteran pilot & past AOPA President. “The award itself is a true reflection of the great [air traffic control] team we have in Queenstown and the great service they provide to the community.”
Notes for media:
Airways NZ, in partnership with AOPA, extend a warm invitation to media reps to join us for the presentation of the AOPA Award to Queenstown Control Tower staff.
Where: Hank’s Hangar (Air Milford – 1 Tex Smith Lane)
When: 9.30-10.30am on Thursday 22 April 2010
AOPA is the New Zealand affiliate of the largest General Aviation organisation in the World. In NZ, it represents the largest group of aircraft owners with over 600 aircraft involved.
As a major user organisation AOPA interfaces regularly with the Civil Aviation Authority and Airways New Zealand. At a recent AGM of the association in Blenheim, several special new awards to participants in the industry were announced. From pilots’ and operators’ perspective Queenstown Control Tower operated by Airways NZ Ltd was voted to be the friendliest & most helpful in the country. The service provided was considered to be superior from a users’ point of view.
AOPA Life Member, Brian Hore, along with past AOPA President, Jules Tapper, will present a special trophy acknowledging this contribution to the aviation community. AOPA appreciates the professional, helpful and friendly service experienced by local and visiting aviators by local Control Tower staff and feels the trophy and accompanying certificate recognises the valuable contribution that Air Traffic Control makes to safety in New Zealand skies - especially in the difficult terrain surrounding Queenstown Airport.
What is Air Traffic Control?
Air Traffic Control comprises the various aircraft navigation and communication systems that use computers, radar, radios, and other instruments and devices to provide guidance to flying aircraft.
Trained personnel working as air traffic controllers at stations on the ground constantly monitor these systems and track the locations and speeds of individual aircraft. Controllers can warn aircraft should they come too close to each other. Air traffic control is also used for the safe coordination of landings and takeoffs at airports.
Aviation plays a crucial role in New Zealand’s economic wellbeing.
Projected long-term growth of the aviation sector globally means it is essential to maintain the vitality of aviation through safe, effi cient, cost effective and environmentally sustainable air navigation services. To ensure this, future Air Traffic Management (ATM) systems must provide for optimum use of enhanced technology capabilities; both airborne and ground based.