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Commercial Jet Boat Industry To Be Reviewed

A number of jet boat accidents around New Zealand over the last 12 months has led to a safety review of the commercial jet boat industry by the Maritime Safety Authority.

The review was announced by the Acting Director of Maritime Safety, Tony Martin. At the same time, the MSA released reports on two accidents on the Shotover River last year. Mr Martin said that the purpose of the review is to analyse current and future safety issues across the commercial jet boat industry, so that any adverse safety trends could be identified and remedied.

“We have taken this step because of the number of incidents and accidents that have occurred in the industry during the past 12 months, one of which involved the death of a Japanese tourist in November 1999.

“We are reviewing all incidents that we have on file and then we will survey the industry and consult with involved parties before completing the review.

“We will compare the safety performance of New Zealand’s commercial jet boat industry against other maritime operations that carry passengers and similar industries overseas.”

Mr Martin said that factors which may be unique to this kind of operation will be identified with a view to developing safety benchmarks for the commercial jet boat industry.

“At the same time we need to look at whether or not existing safety legislation is effective in this particular part of the industry and will be looking at the relevant Maritime Transport Act’s maritime rules.”

Both accident reports released by the MSA today involved Shotover Jet Ltd. The first, on 22 August 1999, was caused by engine failure, causing the vessel to run into two rocks at the river’s edge.

The second, on 21 October 1999, was caused by the boat’s steering jamming, which resulted in the boat colliding with a rock.

Reports of investigations into both accidents recommend mechanical changes to or systematic upgrading of parts of the Shotover Jet fleet and improvements and regular reviews to safety systems. All of these recommendations have been acted upon by the company.

Shotover Jet Managing Director, James Boult, said today he welcomed the MSA review into the commercial jet boat industry and Shotover Jet would co-operate fully.

“Shotover Jet began a comprehensive review of all its safety, maintenance and training procedures, checking systems and equipment more than a year ago. We have already made substantial changes to the way the company operates, based on aviation systems”, Mr Boult said.

Mr Martin said the MSA report into a third accident, involving a fatality, has yet to be completed as it requires detailed technical testing of mechanical components. This testing is currently underway and the report should be finalised in the near future.
For more information contact the Acting Director of Maritime Safety, Tony Martin on 04 494 1249 or
025 477 695.
For copies of the reports, please contact Joanne Sweetman, Investigations Administrator on 04 494 1253

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