Air NZ flies high with airline of the year award – but Rolls-Royce engines are a drag

Air New Zealand has reclaimed the title of airline of the year in the annual Airline Excellence Awards, judged by seven editors from AirlineRatings.com.

The airline  won the title five times before losing out to Singapore Airlines last year.

The awards combine safety ratings with factors such as fleet age, passenger reviews, profitability, product offerings and staff relations.

If Air New Zealand’s patience with engine-maker Rolls-Royce comes into judging considerations, it should score high points.

Yet again the airline is cancelling flights, rescheduling passengers over a busy holiday season and struggling to find suitable temporary fleet replacements for grounded Boeing 787s. Continue reading “Air NZ flies high with airline of the year award – but Rolls-Royce engines are a drag”

Navy firms its thinking about frigate replacements

Naval opinion is firming on the next class of frigate to replace the RNZN’s two Anzac Class frigates Te Kaha and Te Mana which are scheduled to be retired within 10 years under the Defence Capability plans.

Both ships are ageing and, according to experienced officers, have had to be driven hard – notably in the Gulf – with only two frigates in the fleet.

A decade ago a National Govt declined to order a third.

Attention is focusing on the BAE Systems Maritime Type 26 ordered for the Royal Navy, the Royal Australian Navy (which will build theirs in South Australia) and now the Royal Canadian Navy, which has awarded Lockheed Martin Canada a contract to develop a 15-strong frigate fleet based on the Type 26.

Early reports indicate the Type 26 fits RNZN’s specifications “like a glove”, a naval architect tells our correspondent.  It will be powered by a Rolls Royce marine gas turbine based on the RR Trent 900 which powers the Boeing 777 and two electric motors.

This will give it a speed in excess of 48 kph and a range of around 13,000 km.  It will have a 5in gun, missiles, a hangar deck and a flight deck strong enough to handle the RNZAF’s NH90 helicopters and a crew of around 120 according to task. The first are due in RN service in 2026.

Both Anzacs are undergoing major upgrades and refits with Lockheed Martin Canada and other contractors. The first, a $394m project, provides a new combat Management System, the supply and integration of various sensors, missile system and a Combat System Trainer for the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland.

The Combat Management System and many of the sensors are the same as those being provided for the upgrade of the 12 Royal Canadian Navy Halifax Class frigates which was undertaken by LMC.

The second, at $65.4m, upgrades the platform systems including the control and monitoring system, overall weight and stability management, the propulsion system, and the heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

Yep, farm prices are booming and the outlook is bright – but cockies might quibble with O’Connor about the causes

Farmers  are  riding a  boom with  the latest  ASB index  for  primary sector  exports  surpassing its   2011  level.   Lamb prices  cracked the  $9/kg  mark   and  beef prices  are   at,   or close to,  record levels.  There is  the prospect  too that  Fonterra’s  payout could  reach  $7.50kg/MS,  one of its  best  ever.

Agriculture   Minister   Damien  O’Connor has not  been slow to  put his government in line   for the  credit  in reaching  these  high  levels—or   to argue  a  Labour-led   government is better for farmers than  National.

At  least  that   was the implication in an  answer he gave in  Parliament last  week.

So farmers and growers are getting better prices for their work under this government than the last National one”.

 O’Connor  is one of the  more  effective ministers  in  the Ardern  Cabinet  but he might have been  stretching it  a  bit  in implying  the  high prices are due to the government.

When  Labour’s Kiritapu Allan  asked   him what action  the government is taking to help this sector,  he  responded: Continue reading “Yep, farm prices are booming and the outlook is bright – but cockies might quibble with O’Connor about the causes”

Hurrah for self-identification – already we can change our gender and in the UK we can change our race, too

Legislators who are being pressed to change discriminatory laws  – including a measure enabling people to choose the gender recorded on their birth certificates –  should brace for a fresh wave of agitation.

It’s the notion that people should be allowed to choose their race as well as their gender.

University staff and students in Britain have been told they can choose if they are black, white or any other race as well as their gender and whether they are disabled.

The decision was made by the University and Colleges Union, which represents researchers, teaching staff and lecturers.

Its latest report says:

“Our rules commit us to ending all forms of discrimination, bigotry and stereotyping.

“UCU has a long history of enabling members to self-identify whether that is being black, disabled, LGBT+ or women.” Continue reading “Hurrah for self-identification – already we can change our gender and in the UK we can change our race, too”

Breaking news: Trump’s economic policies are inconsistent (also Pope admits catholicism)

Amidst the hurly-burly of impeachment, America’s economic policy seems almost a diversion.  A recent assessment by Canadian economist David Henderson provides a pithy summary of Trump’s successes and failures, and in the process raises some interesting questions on how right-of-centre political parties might need to adapt their policies. Continue reading “Breaking news: Trump’s economic policies are inconsistent (also Pope admits catholicism)”

US approves sale of  Hercules for RNZAF

The US State Department has approved a Foreign Military Sale to New Zealand of five C-130J Hercules aircraft and related equipment for an estimated cost of $US1.4 billion.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has delivered the required certification notifying Congress.  Significantly, the US has described NZ as a “major ally”.

New Zealand has asked for five aircraft, 24 Rolls Royce AE-2100D3 turboprop engines (20 installed, 4 spares) along with navigation and electronic systems, personnel training and training equipment, US Govt and contractor engineering, technical and logistics support services; and other related elements of logistical and program support.

The US says this will support its foreign policy and national security by helping to improve the security of a major ally that is a force for political stability, and economic progress in the Asia-Pacific region.

The proposed sale will improve New Zealand’s capability to meet current and future threats by enhancing its current airlift capability.

This proposed sale will provide the capability to support national, United Nations, and other coalition operations.  This purchase also includes sensors and performance improvements that will assist NZ during extensive maritime surveillance and reconnaissance as well as improve its search and rescue capability.

For good measure, the extra cargo capacity and aircraft performance will greatly increase New Zealand’s Antarctic mission capabilities while simultaneously increasing safety margins.

The RNZAF currently flies five 50-year-old C-l30H aircraft and will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and support into its armed forces according to the State Department. The prime contractor will be Lockheed Martin, Ft Worth, Texas

The restoration of strangler’s mana will be important for his prison carers under Kelvin Davis’ reform programme

The unnamed bloke who strangled British backpacker Grace Millane in a case of “rough sex” taken too far (according to his defence lawyer) was found guilty of her murder yesterday.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in February.

There was a time when he could expect to be sentenced to life imprisonment, a misnomer for a jail term that might result in his being detained at her majesty’s pleasure for 20 years or so – perhaps less.

This would make him a prisoner or prison inmate.  But not on Kelvin Davis’ watch as Minister of Corrections.

Davis is keen to have miscreants’ mana restored in establishments where prison officers are encouraged to regard the people in their custody not as a ‘prisoner’ or ‘offender’ but as ‘men in our care’ (at least in a prison for men).

We imagine transsexual inmates might take grave offence at being regarded as “men in our care”, but prison bosses seem to have anticipated this and in Tongariro Prison the flawed citizens in their care are being called “paihere”. Continue reading “The restoration of strangler’s mana will be important for his prison carers under Kelvin Davis’ reform programme”

The PM dances on a pin about funding furore – but she can’t waltz away from the question of her govt’s integrity

Are  ministers  in   Jacinda  Ardern’s  coalition   beginning  to  live  in  a  dreamworld  of their  own,  distant  from  the  one  where ordinary  New Zealanders  live?

In Parliament, in answer to patsy questions from their own  backbenchers, they  congratulate   themselves  on  their  extraordinary  ( as it  seems to them)  achievements. They  appear  supremely  unconscious  of or oblivious to the  world  most  New Zealanders inhabit.  And this week   they were   doing  their best  to  ignore   the   raging  furnace  torching  NZ  First.

It’s  possible  they were  yawning because  they had  heard it  all before.

But other  NZers found  the allegations  of  financial shenanigans inside  the structure of  NZ  First disturbing.

Stuff reports  the  NZ  First Foundation received 26 donations of $325,900 in just a five month period, adding:

Donors to the foundation include food manufacturers, racing interests, forestry owners and wealthy property developers.”    Continue reading “The PM dances on a pin about funding furore – but she can’t waltz away from the question of her govt’s integrity”

We encounter stubborn silence rather than spin in our pursuit of a Parliamentary fracas

We wonder if we were supposed top be gobsmacked, consternated  or otherwise thunderstruck by the headline we encountered at the top of page 16 in our Dominion-Post today.

“Fracas in Parliament,” it bellowed in a truncated version of the headline that can be found on the same report at Stuff.

The opening sentence of the report to which we were lured told us:

“A political fracas has broken out at Parliament on the third day of a NZ First donations saga.

“NZ First MPs were in denial-mode, National revealed a $30 million lawsuit threat, and another MP called out for someone to ring the police.”

Hmm.  Some MPs were denying something (as they persistently do), a lawsuit threat has been made and someone has called for the cops to be phoned.  Good luck with the phone call.,

The dictionary we consulted gives this definition – a fracas is a rough, noisy quarrel or fight. Continue reading “We encounter stubborn silence rather than spin in our pursuit of a Parliamentary fracas”

Just in case you missed the Beehive’s news of another PGF handout, a New Zealand First MP announced it, too

The Point of Order Trough Monitor, programmed to alert us to ministerial handouts, nevertheless sounded the alarm when the latest Provincial Growth Fund spending was announced by a politician further down in the pecking order.

Accordingly we have learned that the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) has allocated $3.5 million to develop innovative predator control approaches which will reduce the need for repeated 1080 use.

The news was delivered in an embargoed press release from a New Zealand back-bencher, conservation spokeswoman Jenny Marcroft.

Perhaps she was hoping to draw attention from other matters involving her party.

Perhaps she was hoping the media were less likely to miss the announcement if it was made more than once.

Or perhaps she wanted to give greater emphasis to the role the PGF is playing in finding ways of reducing the use of 1080, the most effective way of eradicating pests such as rats and possums but a poison passionately opposed by some environmentalists.

We muse on the second two possibilities because the news was also announced – the official announcement, you could say – by Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau.

This announcement (posted on the Beehive website) says – Continue reading “Just in case you missed the Beehive’s news of another PGF handout, a New Zealand First MP announced it, too”