Home' Advocate Communications : Fiordland Advocate 27 March 2009 Contents 27 March, 2009 | Page 7
As a boy growing up in Dunedin
Evan Pearce had two great loves
aeroplanes and mountains. It
was clear he aspired to achieve
By 17 he already had his private
pilot’s licence and on leaving
school he joined the air force as
an avionics engineer, and later air
After five years he left the air
force to pursue his dream of
becoming a commercial pilot and
landed his first such job as an
instructor with the North Otago
Aero Club in Oamaru. The job was
for only one weekend a month
but by the time he left he’d built
it into a seven-day operation
employing two instructors.
From there he went to fly for
Mount Cook Ski Planes, based
out of Mount Cook. He credits
his alpine attraction to the
enthusiasm of his father who led
many school groups to Deep Cove
and his passion for Fiordland,
in particular, rubbed off on the
Eagle Airways was the next
stop where he flew turbo prop
passenger planes at a time when
the scheduled services included
Manapouri and Mount Cook.
Three years later he was piloting
ATR-72s for Mount Cook Airline.
About the time he was regularly
flying into Manapouri – about
10 years ago – he began his
first formal association with
the airport, taking on the
position of quality assurance
manager, supporting the airport
manager as part of civil aviation
It was that interest in safety
management and aviation quality
assurance that spawned his
company Qaosh New Zealand Ltd
(quality assurance occupational
safety and health). Initially set up
to introduce safety management
systems into small aviation
operations that didn’t have the
expertise or resources to do it
themselves, the company now
has two fulltime staff and three
part-timers and has clients
throughout the South Pacific.
As well as managing Qaosh, these
days Mr Pearce is a first officer on
a Boeing 737 flying trans-Tasman
and Pacific routes for Pacific Blue.
And, as of late last year, he is also
the manager of Te Anau Airport.
Technically speaking, it’s Qaosh
that has been contracted to
manage the airport but Mr Pearce
has embraced the role personally
and is clearly excited by the
challenge of turning an empty
“shell” into a viable commercial
He remains based in Christchurch
where his Pacific Blue roster
has him flying 12 days a month.
The Manapouri role is part-time,
although he says there’s barely
a day goes by when he’s not
working on the project.
He has a very clear programme
for progressing the airport and
says criticism being levelled at
the project now is premature.
However, he concedes that public
trepidation comes down to a lack
of information and buy-in and
it now falls at his feet to try and
“The community have to be proud
of what they’ve paid for,” he said.
“I think they need to come out
here and have a look at it. Forget
sitting behind the table and
looking at your rates bill, I would
like to see them out here having
a look at the terminal, walking
through the terminal, having a
look at the wee display we’ve
got out here and saying, “look,
hey, we’ve finally got ourselves
something we can market out to
an external operator.”
Mr Pearce has no doubt that
Manapouri will again attract
scheduled air services but said
there was a lot of work to do
first. His first priority is to see
fuel pumping on site and the
development of hangars. The next
is to have local companies, such
as Air Fiordland, operating from
the airport and the final stage to
attract domestic air services.
Putting blood in airport bones
Putting blood in airport bones
Te Anau’s flash new airport, and the cost it’s
likely to impose on ratepayers, has been courting
controversy before a single commercial flight has
even touched down. So who would want the job of
promoting and managing it? Meet Evan Pearce –
international passenger jet pilot, aviation quality
assurance manager, entrepreneur and, perhaps
most importantly, eternal optimist.
And on that final goal he was taking a very
“I think this has got tremendous potential for
scheduled service... I personally believe that in my
heart,” he said.
“I’m working myself on a number of options for
scheduled services, that’s how confident I am. I’ve
been talking to a number of operators that in the
future are prepared to start looking at a scheduled
service into here.”
The passion Mr Pearce has for Manapouri Airport
is overwhelming. Even though he might only be on
site for a few days each month, on meeting him
you’re left with little doubt that his mind is never
far from Fiordland.
“I don’t need this job, I’m a successful enough
airline pilot,” he said.
“The reason why I’m here is the fact that I
believe in the place. I believe there needs to be a
scheduled service in here.
“I believe that this aerodrome can be promoted to
a first class facility. It’s already got the bones. It
needs the blood.
“I want the people to have a first class service and
they deserve it – they’ve paid for it.”
Te Anau Airport manager Evan Pearce on the deck of the new airport terminal at Manapouri. Evan has enormous
confidence in the airport’s potential for regular scheduled air services.
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