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Investigation begins into plane crash

Monday 8 Apr 2013 5:38 a.m.

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The investigation into why a light plane crashed into the ocean killing 2degrees chief executive Eric Hertz and his wife Kathy is getting under way.

The twin-engine Beechcraft Baron belonging to the Hertz's ditched in the sea off the Waikato coast on March 30, after reporting engine failure.

Navy divers recovered the one body on Saturday, and the second body and a significant part of the wreckage yesterday, from the sea floor about 55m below the surface.

The wreckage is being shipped to Auckland accompanied by a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) safety investigator.

It will be inspected at Devonport Navy base for "signs of non-impact mechanical failure or other damage", CAA spokesman Mike Richards says.

After three days it will be transported to CAA's workshop in Lower Hutt for more detailed examination looking for malfunctions or parts failure, he says.

The engine will be stripped back and some parts may need to be examined by technical experts, which can involve components being sent overseas for checking, Mr Richards says.

"Essentially there are three components to the investigation: The man, the machine and the environment."

Investigating these includes looking at the outcome of the coroner's report into the pilot's physiological state, the weather on the day and condition of the plane.

The work requires a painstaking level of detail and it could be some time before the CAA has anything to report, Mr Richards says.

The families of Mr and Mrs Hertz said in a statement they were relieved the bodies and wreckage had been recovered and they looked forward to understanding what happened.

"By safely recovering the aircraft ... the rescue authorities have made a huge contribution to us and the wider aviation community."

Both bodies will undergo a post-mortem examination in Auckland.

Mr and Mrs Hertz, who were American citizens with New Zealand residency, had been travelling from Auckland to Timaru to visit their daughter.

NZN

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