The Year in Summary
Unsurprisingly, weather and flying hours go hand in hand, and with the weather that we have experienced over the last 12 months it’s no wonder that the last year has been a challenging one. We have consistently seen some pretty poor days and summer decided not to show up at all!
However, it’s not all doom and gloom, we continue to have a good core group of students coming through and an engaged membership which is positive for the flying hours, club membership and moral. What’s good to know is that we definitely don’t have any trouble filling up the booking sheet when the weather is good.
As a committee we successfully completed a review of our training fleet and after a full analysis and the production of a cost model we successfully negotiated the purchase of two Tomahawks (WAC & TAW). Aircraft ownership brings with it both opportunities and challenges, we will benefit from a slightly larger margin allowing us to pass benefits onto members or help offset losses. We will also have more control over maintenance and future upgrades. We can now feel a sense of ownership for these aircraft as members.
We remain committed to ensuring the sustainability and financial viability of the club by continually looking for new opportunities, new ways of marketing our club and presenting ourselves as a professional training organisation, this has been reflected in the money, time and effort we have put into the club over the last year and the numerous hours that go on behind the scenes by the committee. The effort and dedication from members and the instructing team over the last year in all areas has been outstanding.
Andrew Sims (Simsy) has done a great job this year leading the team and engaging members. His enthusiasm for aviation and instructing rubs off on everyone who walks into the club and the excellent flying skills and knowledge that he imparts keeps us all on our toes.
After completing his B-Cat Jelle stepped up to the additional responsibilities this role involves both in flying and on the ground. While he was a huge loss to the club in February of this year, it was great to see his dedication, hard work and self-motivation, pay off as he upgraded the Tomahawk to a Caravan with Sounds Air.
With Jelle’s departure both Iain and Jared have stepped up and we brought both into full-time positions at the club. Along with their normal duties they both attended an Aviation Safety Co-ordinator course, run annually by the CAA, providing them both with a sound understanding of the considerations that need to be made when working in this type of environment along with providing some practical tips to promote safety within the club.
Iain is making great progress towards his B-cat and we hope to see him achieve this within the next month. Jared completed his C-Cat supervision period and also attended the Maintenance Controller course ensuring we had continuity with the management of maintenance on the aircraft with the departure of Jelle and is doing a great job monitoring and minimising down time.
James Hillson has continued to be involved with the club both on the flying side and as a committee member. We have made good use of his Flight Examiner privileges, reflected in the five PPLs that have been completed this year. He has also instructed the mountain flying portion of the syllabus, covering the interim period while other instructors are signed off to carry this out, this has been a big help since the departure of Rochelle Fleming (who also assisted with this).
The current team is:
- Andrew Sims – CFI
- Iain Abel – C-Cat
- Jared Remington – C cat
- James Hillson- A-Cat
- Blair Frampton – C-Cat
A big thank you to all the instructors who not only do an outstanding job imparting their flying skills and knowledge to us as members but who also do a lot of work behind the scenes to keep the club operating smoothly, keeping it tidy and presenting a professional image to members, both new and current.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t carry on from last year and turn a surplus, instead making a loss of $18.7k. This is by no means a reflection of the effort and hard work put in by the instructing team but is instead directly attributable to the lower than anticipated hours impacted by the weather, highlighting how reliant we are on the weather to ensure a positive financial performance.
Our large term deposit has once again reduced the loss, returning $14.7k in interest over the last 12 months. With the purchase of aircraft the total amount we have to invest has decreased and we are investigating possible options to better utilise this money in light of the low interest rates and in our effort to ensure the sustainability of the club.
We continue to take debtors seriously and do not tolerate unpaid accounts. This year two debtors owing significant amounts of money were referred to Baycorp. One of these cases went to the Disputes Tribunal to resolve, resulting in the investment of a significant amount of time and energy from a group of committee members. We are happy to report that both debts have now been paid.
A copy of the 2017 Finance Report can be downloaded below:
Tenure at Wellington International Airport
We have renewed our lease of the Gibson Hangar through until 2021. This is a great result for the club and gives us some certainty that we will be staying put in the short to medium term. This lead to the decision to invest time, money and effort to continue the refresh of the club rooms since the move into the hanger over 5 years ago.
We have been in regular contact with Wellington International Airport Company (WIAL) and have established a good relationship with the lease and property management team. They have confirmed that they have no immediate use for the space and will keep us updated as to their plans for the Western apron. The current space next door that has been occupied by Fulton Hogan (who are moving to a new site opposite Bunnings) will be turned into additional car parking for the retail centre, this will be beneficial for the club in that it will significantly improve the tidiness of the area, provide the club with more foot traffic and increase the public awareness of our location and the club itself.
Clubroom & Facilities
In an effort to continue improving the presentation of the club rooms we held two working bees both of which were well attended by members. All who attended put in a supreme effort painting the club rooms to make them more professional, the upstairs bar area was cleaned, painted and decorated and is now a usable social space – special thanks go out to the Instructors who resurrected some of the memorabilia from the old club rooms giving the space a much needed ‘aviation’ feel. The hanger was cleaned out and a few trailer loads of rubbish were removed.
To provide a more welcoming entrance to the club a new patio area was laid with some finishing touches to be made this year, it has already had a few good uses for club BBQs and come summer time will certainly be put to use. We also refreshed and simplified the billboard at the entrance to more clearly communicate who and where we are to the wider public.
A new kitchen was installed which has greatly improved the look of this area making the main thoroughfare to the hangar and the front lounge for members, potential members and visitors to the club much more appealing.
We had plans for further work in 2016/17, which the Committee decided to put on hold when it became apparent that our revenue was down for the year. We hope to bring these back on the table as finance allows.
The aircraft owners evaluated the options regarding the hangar doors, the outcome of this review was that the benefit of having hangar doors did not outweigh the investment needed to have these repaired/replaced so it was therefore decided to leave this as is in the meantime. Our recent discussions with WIAL, indicated that they were working on their maintenance plan for the airport, so we have suggested that they consider this as part of the plan. We will keep you updated on progress with this.
The effort and work that has been put into the club rooms to date is not to be underestimated and has involved hard work by both members and the instructing staff. Thank you to everyone involved.
There has been no change to the aircraft online at the club.
The fleet is currently:
|3x PA38||ZK-ESG, WAC and TAW|
|1x PA28 Warrior ||ZK-MBG|
|1x CJ6 Nanchang||ZK-MAO|
Other aircraft in the hanger that are off-line are JWH (C206), LGT (Giles G-200) and FHQ (PA-28), VRF (Maule)
With the Tomahawk lease agreement due to come to an end in October 2017 we took the opportunity to complete a review of the training fleet to assess what was required for the club in order to meet the needs of our members. The process allowed the committee to make a balanced and informed decision about the future of aircraft at the club and resulted in a decision to purchase training aircraft. We considered options from around the country visiting, talking to other owners, sellers and aircraft dealers and test flying aircraft.
Roc on Aviation, who we leased the three Tomahawks from, made an offer to sell all three to the club (WAC, TAW and ESG). A detailed cost model for aircraft ownership was developed and this was used to test a number of scenarios which allowed us come to the decision that the club was in a position to purchase two aircraft (WAC & TAW), however the need to have a third aircraft to cover overflow for the busy flying days and provide redundancy for any unscheduled maintenance means that we will continue to lease ESG.
The purchase of the aircraft has been finalised in the last month so we are now officially aircraft owners. With the support and effort of committee members the process was completed smoothly and diligently. As mentioned earlier, aircraft ownership will bring its challenges but along with this will also bring benefits. As a club we will have more control over the aircraft hire rates and while keeping the aircraft at the current hire rate we will make a slightly larger margin allowing us to offset our losses but also giving us the opportunity to pass this onto the members as and when we can. We will be developing a plan, policies and procedures with regards to the management and maintenance of the aircraft to ensure we minimise any risk. This is an exciting time for the club and will have significant benefits for us moving forward.
Health & Safety
We had an extensive review of our existing Health and Safety manual to ensure compliance with the updated workplace H&S legislation. The manual is a practical reference for staff and members and includes a new induction process that has been promulgated to all members. The manual focuses on safety, hazard identification and risk mitigation for the club room and hangar areas, areas outside of this are covered by flight rules and airport apron procedures.
Staff are aware of their responsibilities as employees. Hazards are regularly reviewed and processes are in place to ensure new hazards are identified, recorded and promulgated appropriately. H&S is covered at each monthly executive meeting and during staff meetings with any issues being raised and actioned as required.
Youth in Aviation
We have continued to do our part in promoting aviation and flying to the younger generation. The Nanchang went up to the Walsh Memorial Scout Flying School in Matamata again this year adding to the variety of aircraft available over the course of the two-week camp. This gives students the opportunity to see and/or experience flying in this aircraft and give them something to aspire to when they get their licence. The Nanchang syndicate will continue to support this next year.
Thanks to the hard work from Jared and Iain we again offered the Gateway programme to students at schools in the region. The programme gives students the opportunity to learn about all aspects of aviation contributing towards their NCEA credits. Although we only had a few students on the programme last year, it is a great way to get involved and promote aviation as a career path to students as well as increasing the community awareness of the aero club. We will continue to offer the programme this year and have already seen an increase in the number of students participating.
IFR Simulator Training
During the course of last year we were approached by a current club member who was in the final stages of developing a fully certified simulator that can be used for IFR training. In an effort to broaden our services to members we agreed to be the first customer of the simulator, this has been undertaken at no risk or cost to the club.
Our contribution to date has resulted in the production of a training syllabus to allow the simulator to be certified by CAA as a full IFR simulator meaning it can be used for loggable IF time. Our intention is to make this available for IFR training both for club members and those outside the club wishing to maintain IFR currency or complete a rating. This year we will be looking at options to supplement this with a single engine IFR aircraft online at the club so we can offer a full IFR training programme. An assessment will be made to ensure this makes economic sense for the club long term due to the high, and ongoing, investment required to meet and maintain instructor currency requirements.
Flying hours took a dip this year compared to last, which we can attribute directly to the poor weather that we experienced, especially over summer which is where we rely on the main bulk of our hours being completed. Offering some comfort is the fact that we have students and members lining up to fly so when the weather co-operates things are in full swing.
A summary of our revenue hours by fiscal year (1 Apr – 31 Mar) is below.
As you can see in the table below hours across all aircraft (with the exception of MBG) were down compared to last year.
In between the working bees we managed to fit in some fly aways, which let’s be honest, everyone much prefers! We had a number of successful trips to Otaki and Masterton but Mother Nature was against the always popular trip to Cape Campbell with a number of attempts being thwarted by the weather, in saying that it’s great to see the continued keen interest by members for these trips.
It’s also great to see members organising their own day trips together, as this is what being part of a club is all about, being about to experience and share your flying with other members (it is also very cost effective!). Amongst these day trips were jaunts over to Omaka, Masterton, scenic flights over the Sounds, strip flying into some of the many strips we are so lucky to have within a short distance - some of the favourites include D’Urville Island and Pore Gore.
We had a great celebration of member achievements at the end of year Christmas party held at the Evans Bay Yacht and Motor Boat Club, the food provided by the Brittania Sea Scouts, was once again outstanding.
We made a great effort to re-engage the club with Flying NZ (Royal NZ Aero Club) with a number of competitors signing up for the regional competitions held in Paraparaumu. Not only did we have a great turn out of members both flying and supporting we also had some great results with most members finishing up with a placing. We also attended the annual Flying NZ conference which focussed on how clubs can increase their revenue through improved marketing and the use of social media, we have taken away some good tips and tricks to implement on our website and to incorporate into our social media marketing strategy. These events are also a great opportunity to speak to other clubs, gauge how we are tracking and ensure we are properly informed on the latest trends and activities in the industry.
Governance & the Committee
The committee this year has done a great job in achieving some major milestones including the extension of the lease, completion of an aircraft fleet review, development of an aircraft cost model and the subsequent purchase of two aircraft and ensuring the club meets its obligations under the current H&S legislation.
A warms thanks to you all:
- Malcolm Goddard (President Elect)
- Simon Holdsworth (Past President)
- Andrew Braddick (Secretary)
- Jared Remington (Club Captain)
- James Hillson
- Tony Lloyd
- Tim Lewis
- Lawrence Field
- Peter MacLeod (Treasurer) (for part of the year)
- Amanda Robertshawe (who stepped in as Treasurer after Peter resigned due to health issues).
All are volunteers who give significant amounts of their own time towards making sure the club is vibrant and sustainable.
Conclusion & The Future
Although we haven’t had the performance we would have liked this year in terms of finances, the club is still thriving and looking to the future. We have a great team of instructors who are willing to go the extra mile for our members.
One of our main focusses this coming year will be looking at additional revenue streams for the club, this will involve looking further into Part 115 operations with the Nanchang and Strikemaster as well as providing an IFR training programme with the simulator and an IFR capable aircraft online. These along with other things all lead to improving our financial performance to ensure the sustainability of the club.
As aircraft owners we will need to consider the impact of this in day-to-day operations and the management of maintenance etc. This is an opportunity for us to improve our financial performance over the next few years but a well formed plan is required to minimise the risk that this entails. A sub-committee will be formed to formulate a plan and ensure this is managed appropriately.
We will continue to engage with Flying NZ, increasing our presence in regional and national competitions, as well as actively promoting the pilot proficiency scheme that Flying NZ provide to ensure our membership continue to be engaged and have goals well past getting their PPL.
Continual improvement of our facilities will be required to ensure we continue to present a professional image to our members and customers and will be something that, as money allows, we will work towards.
The 5 year plan that was set in 2015 has continuously been revised, and this year as you have read, we have been successful in achieving a number of these targets. As a result, the new Committee will be revising this plan (which currently takes us out to 2020) to ensure that our strategic focus areas are still relevant and will look to set new goals and targets to ensure we continue to move the club forward.
I would like to thank all of our members and instructing staff for a fantastic year, the enthusiasm around the club and engagement from members is great to see - long may this continue. I encourage you all to give yourself a new challenge and set some flying goals for the coming year. We want to continue to have a vibrant and welcoming club for everyone so make sure you visit regularly whether that be for a flight to keep current, get current, heading off for a scenic flight with friends, family or other members, having a go at something new like strip flying or to just pop in and have a coffee. We have put in a lot of work to make our club rooms more presentable so why not come and enjoy them. I look forward to seeing you all at the club.
Amy Dreverman, President
Wellington Aero Club