The head of a Navy team using sonar to search for
aircraft wreckage off the Waikato coast says it's possible the
bodies of 2degrees boss Eric Hertz and his wife Kathy may never
But Warrant Officer James Harper - officer in charge of the
Navy's Mine Countermeasures team - said he was taking
confidence from the progress of a five-hour, 1km-square sonar
scan of the ocean floor this afternoon (Mon).
Mr Hertz, 58, and his wife, 64, were flying to Timaru to
visit their daughter on Saturday. During the flight he
reported engine trouble and ditched the plane into the sea.
"Everything is based on the best information you get at the
time," Warrant Officer Harper told a media conference in
A 20-strong team of Navy, police and Coastguard staff and
volunteers were doing their "utmost" to retrieve the bodies,
believed to be in the wreckage 60 metres below the surface.
Sea conditions were fair today, with swells of around 2m.
"Can I put a confidence factor on it? Not necessarily now,
but I have a reasonable confidence level in what we're
The sonar device being used captured data that would be
analysed on shore.
If the wreckage wasn't found, the search area would be
Sergeant Warren Shaw said it was hoped the wreckage would be
located today but even if its position was found on the ocean
floor it could be at the limits of the depth divers could
reach - around 60 metres below the sea surface.
"Police are thus relying heavily on the expertise of the Navy
and their experience in this field," he said.
"One of the major challenges we're facing is that we're
dealing with an aircraft that has potentially impacted with
the water at high speed and broken up.
"To compound things further, there's the potential for
objects from the wreckage to drift up to 5km a day due to ...
A buoy was dropped at the scene where debris from the plane
and an oil slick were discovered, about 20km northwest of the
entrance to Kawhia Harbour.
An aerial search today was also scanning for debris on the
shoreline, which may indicate drift patterns.