Crash report is released
The mother of Queenstown pilot Julian Kramer gave up on life herself after the crash that claimed her son’s life.
Father Henry Kramer said his wife Lynne was ill with leukemia when Julian, also known as Julienne, was killed in a helicopter crash in the Cardrona Valley in November 2012.
‘‘Leukemia can be kept at bay by blood transfusions but when Julian had the accident she decided she wouldn’t have any more transfusions. She made a decision to die.’’
The couple were born again Christians which had given them an acceptance of death, he said.
‘‘So she decided she would go. She was 84.’’
Julian, the middle of three sons, had always been around for the couple.
‘‘We lost a member of the family who was a great comfort and help and a blessing to us,’’ he said.
Last week the Civil Aviation Authority released a report into the crash that claimed Julian’s life which said the helicopter was flying fast when main rotor control was lost and the blades struck the tail boom. It could not positively identify the circumstances which led to that happening.
Mr Kramer said no-one could be blamed for the crash but he believed fatigue and a tight time frame might have been factors.
The report noted Kramer was fit and a very experienced aeroplane pilot but had much less experience in a Robinson R22.
It said that on the day of the accident Kramer had carried out a full day’s duties of about eight hours at the aero club including logging 2.3 hours flying in fixedwing aircraft.
Mr Kramer said his son wasn’t necessarily fatigued.
‘‘But there’s physical fatigue and mental fatigue. In my opinion that is a thing that should be mentioned in this report stressed a little bit more.’’
The report also noted the pilot was under time pressure to complete the flight before a twilight cut-off with only 38 minutes of available daylight time and the flight time was about 30 minutes.
‘‘In my opinion that certainly had a bearing on the outcome for this flight. The lack of time to complete it . . . This should never have happened. They shouldn’t have gone over there.’’
The report recorded a handling error Kramer made during helicopter training and the suggestion he may have been flying at an rpm higher than normal then overreacted by closing the throttle, stalling the engine and losing control of the helicopter.
But Mr Kramer said his son was extremely prudent.
‘‘He wouldn’t do anything that was outside the book.’’
The report flagged a Robinson safety notice – ‘‘ingrained reactions for an experienced aeroplane pilot can be deadly when flying a helicopter’’.
The report noted the helicopter was 25 hours overdue for its 50-hour scheduled inspection.
Asked to respond, helicopter owner Andrew Fairfax emailed, saying the crash was a tragedy.
‘‘The CAA investigators carried out a comprehensive investigation, interviewing many people, including myself, and I really don’t think I have anything helpful to add to what is already in the report.’’
Treated: Julian Kramer, left, with pilot Sam Innes outside the Wakatipu Aero Club on Mr Kramer’s 50th birthday. Members of the club shouted their friend and colleague ‘‘JK’’ to an hour’s flight in an AS350 squirrel helicopter for gaining a private helicopter licence.