Inquest begins into Fox Glacier deaths
Mon, 13 Aug 2012 5:17a.m.
By 3 News online staff / NZN
A coroner's inquest into the deaths of nine people in a plane crash at Fox Glacier in September 2010 has begun, with family members of the deceased laying the blame on the company that hosted the flight and lax aviation regulations.
The group were on a sky diving adventure when the plane they were in crashed, killing tourists Glen Bourke, Patrick Byrne, Annita Kirsten, and Brad Coker.
Pilot Chaminda Senadhira, and dive-masters Adam Bennett, Michael Suter, Christopher McDonald, and Rodney Miller also died.
The coroner's inquest will be held at Greymouth District Court and is expected to take a week.
Reverend Robin Kingston read a letter from Ms Kirsten's parents, which blamed the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and Skydive NZ for their daughter's death.
Glen Byrne, brother of Irish national Patrick Byrne, said a lack of regulation caused his brother's death, and he hopes "lessons are learned".
Pamela Bennett, mother of Adam Bennett, said he died doing what he loved.
In May the CAA and the plane's operators were criticised in a Transport Accident Investigation Commission report into the accident.
The report says modification of the plane in the months before the crash was poorly managed and discrepancies in the documents weren't picked up by CAA when it approved them.
In a statement at the time, CAA director Graeme Harris admitted it didn't regulate the parachuting sector closely enough at the time, but that it had improved.
"A great deal of work has been done to improve safety in this sector, and I am certain that it will," he said.
New adventure aviation regulations introduced last November set higher standards and allowed the CAA to monitor the industry more closely.
TAIC found the imbalance of weight at the rear of the plane was a likely factor in the crash.
3 News / NZN
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14/08/2012 8:18:44 a.m.
Jim is correct though I was just covering one aspect of many prevention measures from an aviation accident. As an investigator there are usually many root causes that can be be linked to an accident. Safety and prevention means just that. Safety of aviation operations and prevention of them happening again. Yes it is the pilots responsibility overall for the operation and piloting of the aircraft but there are also measures to assist in his operation and the safest possible aircraft condition. The CAA has some responsibility in ensuring they have the qualified personnel to sign off on aircraft modifications for no specified operations. There are too many aspects of an aviation accident to discuss in this forum. I was just offering one aspect only missing from the TAIC report, however, it is only an interim report and further investigation may highlight my two comments towards safety and prevention. There is also as above the coroners report of course. It may ultimately be pilot error but if the aircraft was certified incorrectly from its modifications he may be totally innocent. Never just spit out the old pilot error without knowing the full story.
13/08/2012 9:34:33 p.m.
In regards to Martins comment, no matter what aircraft operation(s) it is the pilots responsibility ultimately to ensure that the aircraft is always operated within the rules regarding CoG etc as stated in the CARs.Regarding a Bulkhead you may find that difficult to introuce as aircraft have a CoG "envelope" which is an area in the airaft to which its total "moment" of weight can be centered on, however I beleive restraints would be suitable in helping prevent an aftward movement of weight in an aircraft which pitches up excessively sending the CoG past its aft limit. A thing to note is that now regulations have caught up with operators and should help to prevent anything like this happening again.
13/08/2012 11:52:56 a.m.
The TAIC report examines various issues with one area in regard of modification of the FU24-954 for parachute operations. One area is installation of a bulkhead restricting of passengers (Skydivers) from moving rearward past the G of G. Also this type of operation there is no reason the skydiver and equipment can not be weighed for the C of G calculation. No issue for those embarased about their weight as it includes equipment. This should be a standard regulation for all parachute operations.
13/08/2012 11:25:52 a.m.
Annw Wentzel wrote:
What a tragic loss. Cndolences to all family and friends
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