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Inadequate Inquiry Into Piper Chieftain Crash

Inadequate Inquiry Into Piper Chieftain Crash

New Zealand First civil defence spokesperson Ron Mark is concerned that fire crash crews involved in the search for the downed Air Adventures plane last year are being used as scapegoats for inadequate air traffic control systems.

This follows reports that searchers could not locate the aircraft, in which eight people died, because fire crash crew on the ground did not have global positioning systems equipment.

“A large number of firefighters were deployed to find the Piper Chieftain which had disappeared off the radar screen when it crashed. They were given no information from the Airways Corporation, which includes air traffic control, and had to undertake a two-hour search, in fog, of the broad area of the crash site,” said Mr Mark.

“It was only after an off-duty air traffic controller by chance flagged down one of the fire fighters and provided him with the last-known coordinates of the aircraft that the command team were able to locate the wreckage.

“Despite the fact that they were sitting on the information all the time, air traffic control failed to pass it on to the fire crash crew undertaking the search, and as a result two hours were wasted. “I am confident that the firefighters who undertook the search and were at the scene of the crash would be willing to give evidence to the Coroner’s Court, yet they have not even been asked.

“All the facts need to be known so that delays in this kind of aircraft emergency rescue cannot happen again,” concluded Mr Mark.

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