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