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Urgent reports sought on Chch crash findings

30 May 2006

Urgent reports sought on Christchurch crash finding

Acting Transport Minister Michael Cullen has again extended the government’s sympathy to the family and friends of the victims of the Air Adventures crash in June 2003 following the release today of the coroner’s final report into the crash.

Seven passengers, all senior managers from Crop and Food Research Limited, and the pilot died when the Air Adventures Piper Chieftain crashed on its final approach to Christchurch at night in poor weather.

"This was a preventable accident and one that took a tragic toll on individual families as well as one of New Zealand’s leading research organisations.

"The coroner's report has raised a number of concerns about the general aviation sector (the aviation sector covering smaller aircraft) and about the regulation of that sector. The coroner noted that the some of the rules governing this sector were a contributing factor to the Air Adventures crash and that certain rules should be urgently reviewed."

The Ministry of Transport has been instructed to report on the coroner's recommendations that relate specifically to the ministry and to put in place a monitoring system to ensure that all the other recommendations in the report, except the one directed at Crop and Food, are acted upon. Dr Cullen said the government would also refer the coroners report to the Auditor General who is presently working with the CAA.

"I have also asked the Board of CAA to advise what actions it’s taking on the recommendations in all recent reports on CAA (including the 2005 Auditor General’s Report and the Coroners Report) and what urgent action it is taking to implement improvements suggested in these reports."

The Ministry of Transport is currently reviewing the Civil Aviation Act. Dr Cullen has asked the Secretary for Transport to look at the coroner's report and see if any of the recommendations lend themselves to incorporation in the Act.

At the coroner's hearing a number of people came forward expressing concern about the way the Air Adventures pilot operated in the past and Dr Cullen said some of the coroner's recommendations are aimed at providing mechanisms to report safety concerns before an accident occurs.

Dr Cullen said safety in the general aviation sector is of paramount importance.
He wants assurances that all relevant lessons are learned from this terrible tragedy and that CAA moves quickly to address any issues in its rules and procedures.

ENDS

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