Scholarship generates new tablet-based app for safer skies

Funding from an aviation safety scholarship was vital to the development of a new app that's currently being trialled in the South Island to help improve safety in New Zealand's airspace.


Created to reduce controllers' workload at peak times, the tablet-based app is the brainchild of Hadley Cave, Airways New Zealand's Chief Controller at Dunedin Tower, and the recipient of the 2015 Jilly Murphy Memorial Aviation Safety Scholarship.


The 2016 scholarship is now open for applications from people, like Hadley, who are passionate about making a difference to aviation safety.


The $5000 scholarship is offered to support a project or person who contributes to improved aviation safety in New Zealand, particularly in Canterbury.  It is offered jointly by Christchurch Airport and Airways New Zealand, in memory of Jilly Murphy, a member of the Airways Christchurch Tower team who died in central Christchurch during the February 22 2011 earthquake.


Hadley Cave says the scholarship was vital to the development of the app, and it offers others like him a unique opportunity to contribute to aviation safety.  "I would encourage anyone with an interest in aviation and safe skies, with the kernel of idea for a safety change or innovation, to have a go.  It's a great opportunity and not to be missed," he said.


The app was designed to overcome the large increase in the number of lateral separation charts caused by the implementation of satellite-based navigation procedures in control towers.  It was developed by an Airways software engineer who turned the concept into reality.


"The app we're trialling in Dunedin replaces looking through three bulky folders containing over 70 charts, with just a few taps on the tablet," says Hadley.  "It greatly reduces the possibility of misinterpreting a chart and minimises any distraction by having to find the correct folder, when the controller should have their eyes out the window. 


The scholarship fund is offered to be used for learning, resources, equipment or to supplement income for a person focused on aviation safety. The project could be research, a process, a product or anything else than enhances aviation safety.  Applications close on 22 December 2015, and can be made via an application form on the Airways and Christchurch Airport websites.


Jilly worked for Airways for 20 years as a highly skilled air traffic controller and was loved and respected by her colleagues at the airport. Aviation safety was very important to her, and her family is supporting the scholarship because of its focus on safety.  A memorial seat in her honour is at the base of the control tower at Christchurch Airport.

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