A Rotorua student pilot who was killed in a crash yesterday
had finished a flight lesson shortly before his plane hit the
Emergency services were called to the scene at Earthquake
Flats Road in Waikite Valley, south of Rotorua, just before
Police were yet to publicly identify the 27-year-old man.
Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesman Mike Richards said
the man had just finished a flying lesson and had taken off
on his own.
"He literally finished a duel operator instructor lesson,
which was a fairly extensive one, and then flew off on his
own pretty close to the conclusion of that lesson, and
unfortunately hit the terrain only about 200 metres away from
There was a witness to the crash, who investigators were
speaking with today, but Mr Richards said it was not known if
it was the instructor.
He said the plane was a Fletcher 24 Turbine Engine kerosene,
which was the kind often used in agricultural applications.
CAA inspectors were at the site today combing through the
wreckage to try to find the cause of the crash, he said.
"They'll be looking for mechanical or equipment failure or
... any major part of the aircraft that might have
The inspectors were taking video footage and digital images
to analyse, he said.
"They also need to determine whether they need to take the
wreckage away from the site, and if they do it will mean they
need to examine it more closely in controlled conditions."
Mr Richards said it was still early days with the inquiry,
but the CAA wanted to find out if there were any "key
learnings" for the industry about mechanical or equipment
failure or pilot error.
He said there might also be tips to pass on to instructors on
how to teach their students.
"We're not there to apportion blame to anybody."
- By Rebecca Quilliam of APNZ