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National calls for safety checks on RNZAF fleet

Richard Worth National Defence Spokesperson

14 August 2002

National calls for safety checks on RNZAF fleet

National is calling for an independent safety check into the air worthiness of the RNZAF transport and surveillance fleets after an Orion was grounded due to malfunction this week.

An Orion was stranded on Niue earlier this week, adding to a string of mechanical malfunctions in air force planes in recent weeks.

National Defence Spokesperson Richard Worth said recent malfunctions in Orion and Hercules aircraft pointed to a disaster in the making. "A civilian airline with the same history of mechanical problems would be grounded until an independent aviation authority could give it safety clearance.

"The Minister of Defence must give immediate priority to ensuring the safety of these aircraft. He can't insist that aircrews continue to fly these planes when all the signs point to their safety being highly suspect.

"An Orion with some form of undisclosed malfunction was stranded on Niue Island earlier this week. Orion aircrew were recently required to undergo hospital tests abroad following a wiring failure that produced toxic fumes in the cockpit, and Hercules transports have struck engine turbine problems.

"How many frequent flyers would use a civilian airline with a current history of engine turbine problems or wiring failures in its fleet?

"The Government's potential liability for civilian travellers on these planes must be huge. Negligence would not be hard to argue. An immediate independent safety check on the six Orion maritime surveillance aircraft and the five Hercules transport planes is urgently required," Mr Worth said.


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