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Air National Pilots Recovering

Air National Pilots Recovering

The two Air National pilots involved in yesterday’s in-flight incident between Blenheim and Christchurch are today recuperating from their ordeal and are asking for privacy.

Aware of the intense media interest they make the following comments but ask media to respect their wishes at this time.

The Christchurch District Court this morning granted name suppression to the pilots and the passenger injured in the attack.

Both men reside in Nelson and are employed by Air National flying Jetstream J32 aircraft. They have around 6,000 hours of flying experience each, including roles as Training Captains.

The Captain of the flight remains in Christchurch Hospital after undergoing surgery yesterday to repair injuries to both hands His wife flew from their home in Nelson yesterday to be with him and remains in Christchurch today.

The First Officer was discharged from hospital yesterday after receiving stitches for a stab wound to his foot. He is currently staying with family.

“As pilots, safety for our customers and crew is top priority and our intuition, training and experience led to a positive outcome,” they said.

The Captain would like to take the opportunity to publicly thank the First Officer for his good work in flying and landing the aircraft in what was a life threatening situation.

“His professionalism allowed me to focus on managing the overall situation and dealing with the offender.

“I would also like to thank Air New Zealand, Air National and the Airline Pilots Association for their continued support We also both appreciate the effectiveness and professionalism of air traffic control, aviation security, police, and airport emergency services.

“We’re obviously both looking forward to returning home and being with friends and family.”

Air National Chief Executive Officer Jason Gray says the thoughts of everyone at the company are with the two pilots.

“Their professionalism throughout the ordeal has been absolutely outstanding. They put their own lives at risk without a second thought and I cannot thank them enough for getting the passengers and the aircraft to safety preventing any further injury.”

“Air National is doing everything possible to support them and their families and would like to reiterate their request for privacy at this time. It is important that they have time to recover away from the focus of the media.”

“Yesterday’s events placed immense pressure upon hundreds of workers at Air National, Air New Zealand, Eagle Air and Christchurch Airport and I would like to thank everyone for the tremendous assistance we have received.”

Both pilots will travel back to Nelson when they are ready. Discussions about returning to work will not be rushed, with the Captain needing some significant rehabilitation time to recover from the damage to his hands.

The pilots have asked for privacy, therefore no further comment will be made about them until such time as they have suitably recovered.


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