North & South - - Letters -

I read with much in­ter­est the ar­ti­cle, Sky­fall (Au­gust), about a 2014 he­li­copter crash near Wanaka in which a heli-skier was killed. The be­reaved widow’s wor­ries about the Trans­port Ac­ci­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tion Com­mis­sion’s (TAIC) lack of trans­parency are noth­ing new.

In 2006, Avi­a­tion In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Irene King was quoted say­ing “the cold light of ex­ter­nal scru­tiny” was miss­ing from TAIC’S pro­cesses, and it was too easy for TAIC to dis­miss ev­i­dence that did not fit its the­o­ries.

How­ever, as a sig­na­tory to the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion, TAIC has a priv­i­lege to im­mu­nity from the Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act. In my opin­ion, the murky meth­ods around which the TAIC can base its re­ports are the root of the prob­lem.

In 1995, I had a top­dress­ing plane crash. TAIC’S find­ings would cen­tre on my in­struc­tor/ bosses’ ver­sion of events. This ev­i­dence we could not see or chal­lenge.

To re­store the pub­lic’s faith in TAIC, there needs to be trans­parency. In­ter­na­tional avi­a­tion safety re­searchers have long known that sys­temic, or­gan­i­sa­tional and cul­tural fac­tors play a sig­nif­i­cant part in find­ing the causes of air­craft ac­ci­dents and in­ci­dents, and that it has been all too easy in the past to blame hu­man er­ror – namely the pi­lot’s. Causal fac­tors need to be traced back through the or­gan­i­sa­tion, and even in some cases back to the reg­u­la­tor.

Three years on from the fa­tal he­li­copter crash near Wanaka, TAIC has still not re­leased its find­ings. Just be­cause the com­mis­sion is tak­ing so long, I don’t be­lieve that means it is do­ing so with suf­fi­cient ex­per­tise to es­tab­lish the true causes. BARRY CARDNO, AUCK­LAND

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