19 Apr 2020

Aircraft maintenance now allowed under level 4

5:20 pm on 19 April 2020

Aircraft owners and operators will now be allowed to do maintenance on all their craft under lockdown level 4.

small cesna airplane with open door. Looking into interior and instruments. Instruments out of focus.

File photo Photo: 123RF

Aircraft owners and operators will now be allowed to do maintenance on all their craft under lockdown level 4.

The Civil Aviation Authority said the Director General of Health has approved the upkeep of aircraft according to manufacturers' maintenance instructions.

However, people must ask for the authority's permission before starting any maintenance, and must provide information about what they plan to do and meet the authority's criteria about how they will manage the risk.

They will also need to maintain public health requirements around physical distancing, handwashing and wearing personal protective gear.

The authority said more information on the changes will be released tomorrow afternoon.

Its director, Graeme Harris, said because of the fast shift to alert level 4 most aircraft operators and owners were not able to complete engine preservations procedures needed when grounding a plane for an extended period.

Without the Director of Health's approval the thousands of owners and operators not considered an essential service would have had to do costly maintenance - between tens of thousands of dollars per craft to more than $1 million - before the aircraft could be safely flown again.

Frank Sharp from Massey University's School of Aviation said planes require a lot of upkeep, even when they are not being flown.

''It's a bit like having your car in the garage for six months, you can't just walk out put the keys in and drive off.

''[Aeroplanes] are pretty sensitive … and complicated beasts - even small ones these days - so before they going flying, once they are cleared to fly, they will need to be checked.''

Sharp said whatever happens there will be a backlog in maintenance before aviation and air transport gets back into full swing.

The authority said not allowing the maintenance work would have hampered the sector's recovery post Covid-19.

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