New Zealand Regulators On Hot Seat

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New Zealand aviation officials failed to take action against a pilot involved in a fatal crash despite numerous warnings about his competence and attitude, a coroner's inquest was told on Thursday. The inquest is reviewing a June 6, 2003, crash near Christchurch that killed pilot Michael Bannerman and seven passengers aboard the Air Adventures Piper Chieftain. As AVweb told you last week, the inquest raised questions about the Civil Aviation Authority's (CAA's) medical standards. Records presented at the inquest showed that another pilot complained in writing to the CAA that Bannerman had repeatedly breached CAA rules and that another pilot had warned of Bannerman's "get-home-itis." The recent focus has been on the CAA's safety reporting and enforcement process, which "failed horribly," according to Jonathan Eaton, the lawyer for the families of the seven passengers. CAA spokesman Mervyn Falconer said he spoke with Bannerman, who denied all of the allegations. Falconer said he took Bannerman at his word and gave the pilot a stern warning that the rules must be obeyed and that Air Adventures would be watched. He said complaints are handled on a case-by-case basis and, without hard evidence of wrongdoing, nothing more could be done.