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NZ not yet fulfilling aviation safety obligations

New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association For Immediate Release 28 November 2012

1979 Erebus Accident: New Zealand not yet fulfilling our international aviation safety obligations

33 years on from the Erebus Disaster, and the failure to submit the Mahon report to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) means New Zealand is not yet fulfilling its international aviation safety obligations we have to share the lessons learned with 191 other signatories to ICAO, says the New Zealand Air Line Pilots’ Association (NZALPA).

“We cannot understand why the Ministry of Transport has not yet officially submitted this report to ICAO” says NZALPA President Glen Kenny. The New Zealand taxpayer funded an extensive investigation but officials in New Zealand have never felt the need to send the Mahon report to ICAO. Mr Kenny says “New Zealand should be prepared to stand by Justice Peter Mahon and the findings of the Royal Commission Report into the TE901 accident on November 28th 1979, and submit this to the ICAO to form part of the official ‘Annex 13’ record.”

At present, the only Annex 13 record that ICAO holds is the 1980 report submitted by Ministry of Transport’s investigator, Ron Chippindale. On 19 September 2012, the Secretary for Transport, Martin Matthews wrote to ICAO stating that the Government considers both the Chippindale report and the Mahon report to be “official government reports into the accident”. But that the Chippindale report “continues to be the official Annex 13 accident investigation report.”

“Until the Mahon report is submitted as an official Annex 13 record of the 1979 Mt Erebus accident, with equal status to the Chippindale Report, we are not fulfilling our international obligations. For the Ministry to attempt to argue otherwise is disingenuous,” he says.

“The 1981 Mahon report was officially tabled and accepted in Parliament in August 1999 by the then Minister of Transport Maurice Williamson” states Mr Kenny. “This investigation report into the loss of 257 lives on Mt Erebus holds many valuable safety lessons for the aviation community and travelling public worldwide and has been widely accepted as a groundbreaking investigation into accidents caused by systemic failure.”

The report findings have never been legally challenged, and have even been recognised by ICAO’s own team of safety specialists in the 1994 Dryden Report into another aircraft accident and in 1982 it even received special mention by the Law Lords during the Mahon Privy Council case. “Clearly by any standard the Mahon report into the causes of the TE901 accident stands up to critical scrutiny and is beyond reproach in terms of Government endorsement” says Mr Kenny.

Glen Kenny says that when the global aviation industry goes to ICAO to find out about an accident, the Annex 13 report is the go-to document. “Simply acknowledging the Mahon report as an “official” report is a different matter”.


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