The Government has rejected claims that a failure to
officially lodge a scathing report into the Erebus disaster
has resulted in New Zealand not meeting its international
aviation safety obligations.
The New Zealand Airline Pilots' Association this week claimed
the Mahon report into the 1979 tragedy has not been lodged
with the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
They say the Royal Commission of Inquiry report holds
critical safety lessons that should be shared with the other
191 signatories to the ICAO.
"We cannot understand why the Ministry of Transport has not
yet officially submitted this report to ICAO," says NZALPA
President Glen Kenny.
"This investigation report ... holds many valuable safety
lessons for the aviation community and travelling public
worldwide and has been widely accepted as a groundbreaking
investigation into accidents caused by systemic failure."
The Ministry of Transport is uncertain if the report has been
But APNZ can exclusively reveal the Mahon report, tabled and
accepted by Parliament in 1999, has been given to the world
And the ICAO says while it doesn't form part of the Annex 13
- Aircraft Accident and Incident Investigation report which
was shaped by Ministry of Transport investigator Ron
Chippindale in 1980, it is still well consulted by the
international aviation community.
"It (the New Zealand Government) did submit the Mahon report
to ICAO," a spokesman for the Montreal-based group said
Eight months after New Zealand's biggest aviation disaster,
when an Air New Zealand DC-10 on a sightseeing flight slammed
into Mt Erebus in Antarctica, killing all 257 on board, a
royal commission was launched.
Justice Peter Mahon, a High Court judge, concluded
navigational programming errors were largely to blame, but
slated Air New Zealand for "an orchestrated litany of lies"
during the hearing.
The NZALPA today said it had always "assumed" the report had
been officially lodged with the ICAO and made up part of
But after looking into it this year, they were "surprised" to
find it wasn't included.
Responding to news that the ICAO said they had received a
copy, Mr Kenny said: "That's the first I heard of it. Our
enquiries to ICAO found they never officially received a
copy, while the Ministry of Transport and TAIC had no record
of having sent it," he said.
"It was a surprise to us. We'd always assumed it was all okay
until we went and had a look."
Secretary for Transport, Martin Matthews wrote to ICAO in
September this year stating that the government considers
both the Chippindale and Mahon reports to be "official
government reports into the accident".
Mr Kenny says that when the global aviation industry goes to
ICAO to find out about an accident, Annex 13 is the go-to
"Until the Mahon report is submitted as an official Annex 13
record of the 1979 Mt Erebus accident, with equal status to
the Chippindale Report, we are not fulfilling our
international obligations. For the ministry to attempt to
argue otherwise is disingenuous," he says.
The ICAO, however, were not worried about the omission when
approached for comment by APNZ.
Anthony Philbin, acting chief of communications, said the
Chippindale report meets its requirements in accordance with
He added that it's "available to anyone who wishes to consult
The Ministry of Transport, meanwhile, denied failing to meet
its international aviation safety obligations.
A spokesman said both the Chippindale and the Mahon reports
"offer valuable safety lessons".
"Both are in the public domain and have been frequently
referenced over the years, including by the ICAO."