Budget pressure didn't cause chopper crash
Wed, 28 Nov 2012 7:23a.m.
The Government is rejecting claims a Defence Force budget squeeze contributed to a helicopter crash that killed three air force personnel.
A leaked Defence Force report says the three Iroquois helicopters took off from Ohakea Air Base before dawn on April 25, 2010, with their crews using night vision googles, partly because it was considered too expensive to put the personnel up in a hotel the night before.
The helicopters were due to take part in a flyover of Wellington's Anzac Day dawn service.
However, the second Iroquois in the formation crashed just before 6am at Pukerua Bay, north of Wellington, killing three crew members and leaving another seriously injured.
The air force's internal accident analysis report says "the need to minimise accommodation costs incurred by 3 Squadron due to pressure on the accommodation budget was recognised and contributed to the ... decision (not to fly the day before)".
NZ First leader Winston Peters says it would have cost just $600 to put the three airmen in a hotel for the night - but instead they "paid the ultimate sacrifice for the Government's slash and burn polices".
Labour's defence spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway says it's clear the Government's requirement for the Defence Force to "do more with less" was a factor in the decision to fly in the dark that morning.
But that was rejected by Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman, who says budget pressures were not listed as a "cause" of the crash in the court of inquiry report, although there were "considerations" that needed to be taken into account.
"[The court of inquiry report] doesn't go into the whole range of factors that may have influenced that decision to fly at night, but the point was that wasn't a cause of the crash."
He says the Defence Force has received legal advice not to make the leaked report public.
Dr Coleman ordered an independent inquiry last month into the Department of Labour's failure to investigate health and safety issues behind the crash, and expects a report before Christmas.
He has also ordered a review of safety improvements following the crash.
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28/11/2012 3:45:29 p.m.
This is a garbage claim.It is expected that the NZ defence force can fly at night. Even if the defense staff were stopping over-night, they would have been getting up in the dark and flying to arrive at the right time for the dawn parade. If we had an emergency, no doubt under Labour/Winston, we would see our defence forces grounded as its too dangerous to operate in the dark! Next Labour will call for all driving to banned off NZ roads as they have a higher accident rate than during day time!Ohakea is not that far by Iroquoi, about 40 min. If they had flown to Wellington the day before, they would need somewhere secure to leave the Iroquois, and still required flying in the dark for the ANZAC parade. They would need someplace to park all 3, plus transport to/from where they parked them overnight. Flying from the closest airbase makes sense for this kind of operation, even for a PR piece like an Anzac parade.Will Iain Lees-Golloway explain how Labours canning of 17+ new RNZAF aircraft also contributed, because on that basis Labour is as much if not more to blame for canning the replacement aircraft which were signed for in 1998 (about 300 mil for the aircraft and 400 mil of a long term service/upgrade program) and Labour due to politics chose not to replace, instead signing us up for 4 more expensive frigates at a cost of $1 billion each with options to take more.Winston was also involved down grading our airforce as part payment in his bought role in government as minister.
28/11/2012 11:41:22 a.m.
That is sad they could of stayed at the army headquarters at trentham for accommodation and it would cost them nothing and parked their helicopters at the airport or wherever they keep them in Wellington. I feel that it was due to bad weather conditions that this tragedy had happen.Yet maybe if the person in charge would of put plan a and b into place regardless of the person was qualified to lead or not maybe proper organization and whoever gave authority to lead it maybe now this has occurred that it brings awareness for all those in the future and the recommendations should be better thought. Very sad that these three soldiers had died, authorities need to lear from their mistakes and make sure it dont happen again.
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