Spidertracks Customer Spotlight: Air Milford, New Zealand

November 19, 2018

‘The reliability and accuracy of Spidertracks is a key feature. We've tried other options that don't come close to the Spider on the Iridium network.’

- Antony Sproull, Chief Pilot at Air Milford

The good folk over at Air Milford have been in operation for 25 years, flying intrepid sightseers over the splendour of New Zealand’s Queenstown area, including Mt. Cook, Queenstown proper, and the world-famous Milford Sound — commonly referred to as the Eighth Wonder of the World. From Air Milford’s Spidertracks-equipped Cessna aircraft, customers get to experience both native wildlife (dolphins, penguins, and seals) and the scenery New Zealand is known for across the globe.

Air Milford have been a Spidertracks customer for a decade, using our ever-developing hardware and software to keep track of their growing fleet, to increase operational efficiency, and to provide their pilots and customers with security and peace of mind. To hear more about what Air Milford thinks of Spidertracks, we spoke with Chief Pilot Antony Sproull. Read what he had to say below!

Tell us a bit about your organisation. What do you do? How long have you been in operation? What’s your particular role within the organisation?

Air Milford is a scenic flight operator based at ZQN (Queenstown Airport). The company was established in 1993 and was originally named after the proprietor Dave Bunn (Dave Bunn Aviation). He operated solely with a Cessna 206G, but in 1998 my father Hank Sproull joined forces with his C185 — and together, they set about offering a personalised flightseeing service over and above what the competition were doing.

Hank called on his 30 years of service with Mount Cook Airline as pilot/engineer and Dave on his farming background, which was a unique combination of area knowledge, aviation expertise, and Kiwi hospitality (which often included freshly baked scones or other treats for the guests!). Milford Sound continued to be the most popular destination, but the benefit of operating bush planes was having access to remote locations outside of Milford Sound such as Big Bay, Martins Bay, Stewart Island, and Doubtful Sound. In the year 2000, Hank and wife Kerrie took the company over and rebranded to Air Milford.

Our company now employs six pilots and two engineers alongside approximately six ground staff. The aircraft fleet has also expanded rapidly with the addition of four Cessna 208 Caravans, including the first two brand-new G1000 equipped to NZ.

How did you become aware of Spidertracks, and when did you begin using us? What was involved in your decision to become a Spidertracks customer?

This was before my time in the company, but I think we purchased one of the original Spider 3s. The main requirement was flight following when visiting remote destinations. Obviously price was a factor, but the pros outweighed the cons!

What Spidertracks features and functionalities are the most important for your organisation, and why?

The reliability and accuracy of Spidertracks is key. We've tried other options that don't come close to the Spider on the Iridium network. We love knowing altitude and airspeed stats in real-time, and having a remote device is handy to swap between aircraft, too. As a Kiwi family-based business, we love supporting other Kiwi businesses and Spidertracks.

What key issues for your business has Spidertracks helped with?

It’s been invaluable in reassuring our pilots that their position in the remote backcountry is visible to our base every two minutes. It’s also very helpful to our flight coordinators scheduling taxis and for our ground crew to be at the ready for quick turnarounds.

Anything else you’d like us to know? We’d love to hear it!

We’ve ferried a few aircraft from overseas to NZ, so it was great having Spidertracks on those trips. Again, their worldwide application was better than the models the ferry pilots were using!

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