NZ chopper crash pilot improperly trained
The pilot of a tourism helicopter that crashed in New Zealand's South Island, killing all seven people on board, wasn't properly trained and the country's aviation watchdog failed to intervene, crash investigators have found.
Australians Josephine Gibson, 29 and Sovannmony Leang, 27, died along with four British tourists and 28-year-old pilot Mitchell Paul Gameren when the sight-seeing chopper plunged into a Fox Glacier crevasse on November 21, 2015.
New Zealand's Transport Accident Investigation Commission on Thursday released its report into the disaster, finding the Eurocopter AS350 Squirrel helicopter - operated by tourism company Alpine Adventures - had flown out in poor weather despite the cancellation of other flights that day.
It said the pilot's vision would have likely been affected by cloud, rain or windscreen condensation.
"The pilot had not been properly trained and did not have the appropriate level of experience expected," the report said.
"The operator had been allowed to continue providing helicopter air operations with little or no intervention from (aviation regulator) the Civil Aviation Authority, in spite of the Authority having identified significant non-compliances with the operator's training system and managerial oversight."
Gameren had about 1800 hours of flight experience.
The report concluded the helicopter descended quickly and struck the glacier at "high forward speed", with the engine still delivering power.
Mechanical failure was ruled unlikely.
The Civil Aviation Authority preempted the report by this week admitting oversight should have been better, and that not enough pressure had been put on the operator to improve safety.
Gibson's father, Charles, told Radio NZ the oversight process had been "completely rotten".
Earlier in May, Queenstown-based Alpine Adventure's then-owner, James Patrick Scott, was fined $NZ64,000 ($A60,438) after admitting to breaches of health and safety laws. He also made voluntary reparations of $NZ125,000 to each of the families of the seven killed.
The other victims were British tourists Nigel Charlton, 66, Andrew Virco, 50, Katharine Walker, 51, and Cynthia Charlton, 70.