The Squirrel helicopter after it reportedly clipped a
stationary helicopter and crashed on the Tyndall Glacier on
Monday. Photo supplied.
A senior search and rescue officer is surprised no-one
was killed in Monday's helicopter crash on the Tyndall Glacier
in Mt Aspiring National Park.
Kevin Banaghan, of the Rescue Co-Ordination Centre, said
given the remote location, extent of damage and number of
people involved (11 passengers), he was ''very surprised that
we did not have a fatality'' when a descending helicopter
clipped a stationary helicopter near the glacier.
Both aircraft were from the Helicopter Line, Queenstown.
The pilot of the helicopter trying to land was flown to
Dunedin Hospital's intensive care unit at 7.45pm on Monday
with serious head injuries after being seen at Lakes District
A Helicopter Line director, Mark Quickfall, said the pilot
was in a stable condition yesterday.
''Some of our team have gone through to Dunedin with his
immediate family to provide support,'' Mr Quickfall said.
All the passengers had been discharged from hospital ''as far
as I'm aware''.
They had been admitted to Lakes District Hospital, Frankton,
on Monday and then some were transferred to Invercargill
''just for scans [as a] precautionary measure, but they have
all been cleared''.
The tourists had been on a scenic snow-landing experience
when the incident occurred. Two Transport Accident
Investigation Commission (TAIC) investigators inspected the
site yesterday afternoon, TAIC investigation support general
manager Peter Northcote said.
The damaged AS350 Squirrel helicopters were removed to
storage in Wanaka and the investigators hoped to interview
passengers and the pilot of the stationary helicopter today.
The injured pilot would be interviewed when his condition
permitted, Mr Northcote said.
The Helicopter Line will carry out its own internal
investigation. Mr Quickfall said the injured pilot had been
with the company for several years.
''He's an experienced pilot, both with fixed-wing flying in
the Mt Cook region and, in later years, helicopters. So he's
certainly not a new aviator.
''Both pilots were very experienced.''
It was still not clear how the two helicopters had made
contact, Mr Quickfall said.
''One of the helicopters had already landed and the second
machine came in to land and things didn't go to plan.
''Helicopters have the ability to [land close to one
another], so we really don't know whether it was a wind gust
or what. We make snow landings around the South Island daily
with our fleet of 20-plus helicopters, so it's not something
that's new to us.''
- Additional reporting APNZ