The Press

Robust checks on pilots ‘not flawed’

- DASHA KUPRIENKO

Plans to make the medical applicatio­n process for pilots more robust after a helicopter crash that killed two people near Queenstown are ‘‘over the top’’, the aviation authority says.

A Transport Accident Investigat­ion Commission (TAIC) report found Wanaka pilot Stephen Anthony Nicholson Combe was considered medically fit to fly when he crashed a Robinson R44 on February 19, 2015.

The bodies of the 42-year-old instructor and his student, James Louis Patterson Gardner, 18, and the wreckage were found in remote Lochy River basin bush.

In its report the commission said Combe failed to declare the medication he had taken and his mental health conditions when obtaining CAA medical certificat­es in August 2014 and February 2015.

It recommende­d the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) review its medical applicatio­n process as there were ‘‘too many ways’’ to dodge the CAA process that prevented medically unfit pilots from flying.

But New Zealand Aviation Federation president and New Zealand Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associatio­n president Ian Andrews said the medical applicatio­n process was already robust enough.

The associatio­n would lodge a complaint about the recommenda­tion, he said.

‘‘They [TAIC] are over-the-top.’’ The only way to prevent cheating in the system was to have a doctor alongside the pilot at all times, he said.

‘‘The medical process, as portrayed by this report, is not flawed.

‘‘I wonder what … would lead to such a list of recommenda­tions when the finding is that a medical factor was clearly not the cause of the accident.’’

Private pilots undertook medical examinatio­ns annually and commercial pilots every six months. They cost upwards of $500 each time.

‘‘The minute he [pilot] steps out of the doctor’s office he is self regulating,’’ he said.

 ??  ?? Ian Andrews
Ian Andrews

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