Published date: 8 January 2020

The Civil Aviation Authority has today issued an objectional determination over a proposal to use Lyttelton Harbour as a waterdrome – a water-based airfield for floatplanes.

Aeronautical Services Manager Sean Rogers said the Authority had conducted an aeronautical study, which carefully considered the safety effects the proposal would have on people on the ground, as well as existing aviation users.

"During the submission process for the aeronautical study we received more than 175 submissions on Peninsula Air Limited’s proposal," Mr Rogers said.

"Most of the submissions raised concerns about the safety effects the proposed waterdrome would have on people and their property. They also highlighted the importance of access to Lyttelton Harbour by locals for sailing, boating, swimming and fishing.

"People’s concerns were largely focused on the potential for collision between a floatplane and swimmers, marine mammals, marine craft, or other objects in the area during take offs and landings."

Under Civil Aviation Rule 91.127, any runway, heliport or strip of water used as a waterdrome is required to be clear of all people, animals, vehicles, vessels, and other obstructions, other than those essential to the operation, such as ground-based navigation equipment or terminal buildings.

The aeronautical study found the narrow confines of Lyttelton Harbour would have given any pilots using the waterdrome restricted options for alternative landing spots if other people were using the harbour in the proposed waterdrome area.

"The density of activities within the proposed area on the harbour would create a high risk of an incident between seaplanes and other users of the harbour," Mr Rogers said.

What does an aeronautical study take into account?

The purpose of the aeronautical study is to consider the effects that the proposed establishment or changes to an aerodrome would have on the safe and efficient use of airspace by aircraft, and on the safety of persons and property on the ground.

In particular, aeronautical studies consider the following:

  • The effect the proposed action would have on existing or contemplated aerodrome traffic circuits of neighbouring aerodromes.
  • The effect the proposed action would have on existing and projected airspace uses.
  • The effect the proposed action would have on the safety of persons and property on the ground.
  • The effect the existing or proposed man-made objects and natural objects within the affected area would have on the proposed action.

Water Aerodrome Objectionable Determination, Lyttelton Harbour [PDF 322 KB]

The CAA’s aeronautical study process is quite separate to a local council’s resource consent processes, and is very much safety focused – for example, it doesn’t consider issues such as noise.

Contact the CAA media team for further information
027 763 0000 |