Wanaka Sun       

TAIC releases interim reports into Wanaka helicopter crashes

Posted at 1:58pm Thursday 20 Dec, 2018 | By Ruth Blunt editor@thewanakasun.co.nz


The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has today released its interim reports into two fatal helicopter crashes near Wanaka in July and October of this year.

Pilot Matthew Wallis died when the Robinson R44, ZK-HTB, he was flying crashed near Stevensons Arm, Lake Wanaka, on July 21.

The interim report into this crash has found “evidence in the main rotor mechanism symptomatic of the helicopter having experienced mast bumping at some point in the accident sequence.”

It also found evidence “that a main rotor blade has struck and entered the cabin in flight” causing damage to the flight instruments pane.

The interim report into the crash which claimed the lives of Nicholas Wallis, Paul Hondelink and Scott Theobald has also been released today. The Hughes 369D, ZK-HOJ, they were travelling in crashed near Wanaka Airport on October 18.

TAIC has found evidence that there have been three incidents the month prior to the accident in which doors on this helicopter opened in flight, and has noted: “Effective safety management depends on such incidents being reported and addressed, but none of these occurrences was recorded in the operator's incident reporting system.”

It has also noted the risk posed by loose items in the cabins of helicopters: “Evidence shows that a pair of over-trousers from within the cabin was drawn out in some way and became entangled in the tail rotor.”

Markings found on the tail rotor blade “strongly indicate that over-trousers had come out of the helicopter and become entangled with the tail rotor at some point”.

The Commission has recommended urgent action by the Director of the Civil Aviation Authority to remind aviation participants of the importance of incident notification in accordance with Civil Aviation Rules.

The Commission has stressed the interim reports include no findings. All evidence and the role it may have played in the accident sequence is subject to further investigation and the final report may differ from the information contained in these interim reports. Investigations are continuing.


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