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Shotover Jet Accident Report Released

Maritime Safety Authority

The Maritime Safety Authority today released its report citing steering failure as the cause of the November 1999 accident involving Shotover Jet 15, which resulted in the death of a Japanese tourist.

Following this and a number of other accidents, the MSA has initiated an extensive review of the national commercial jet boat industry, a process which is almost complete.

As part of the review, every commercial jet boat operator was given the opportunity to comment on safety issues, and expert input was sought from the New Zealand Commercial Jet Boat Association.

“While certain adventure based jet boating trips involve a degree of risk, systems need to be in place to best manage the risk and promote safety, without regulating away the thrill appeal which draws the customers. As an important tourism feature for New Zealand there is a potential for damage if a strong safety culture and systems are not evident,” says Russell Kilvington, Director of the Maritime Safety Authority.

Since the November 1999 accident MSA has worked with Shotover Jet Ltd to improve their safety culture. A full independent audit of the company was completed in early 2000. A wide range of recommendations were made and have been accepted by the operator.

The report into the Shotover Jet 15 accident finds the failure of the steering nozzle on the jet boat caused a loss of steering, while the boat was operating at close to its maximum speed in a gorge with limited manoeuvring room.

“This accident involved a number of complex technical issues which were vigorously debated by both Shotover Jet and C.W.F. Hamilton. The investigation took some time because it was crucial that we get independent specialist advice from overseas to resolve these technical issues, and important that we report our findings back to the industry,” says Mr Kilvington.

While the investigation was being conducted, C.W.F. Hamilton recalled all Mark I nozzles from the 212 Marine Propulsion Units used in Shotover Jet 15. They have also required users of these units to fit steering stops and released a Mark II nozzle.

As a result of all of the above no legal action was taken, or remains contemplated, by MSA against any party.

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