Charges laid after passenger jet's 'late takeoff'

The Civil Aviation Authority has charged an individual on a Pacific Blue passenger jet for allegedly compromising safety by taking off from Queenstown Airport last year after the deadline for departures.

It was reported at the time Flight DJ89 departed Queenstown for Sydney on June 22 in darkness, potentially endangering the 140 passengers and crew aboard.

CAA said today that two charges had been laid under the Civil Aviation Act following an extensive investigation into the departure of the B737-800 aircraft from Queenstown, in conditions of poor light and visibility.

"The investigation concluded that the airline's procedures and operating conditions were breached in this take off...and that safety was compromised as a result."

Director of Civil Aviation Steve Douglas said that the airline had not been charged.

"I am satisfied that Pacific Blue had the appropriate procedures in place for operations conducted at Queenstown," he said.

The matter was now sub judice and the CAA would not comment on the case until it was heard in the Queenstown District Court.

Queenstown is surrounded by mountainous terrain and has no radar or runway lights.

CAA spokesman Bill Sommer said after the incident that airlines operating out of Queenstown must depart no later than 30 minutes before twilight as a precaution.

"If anything does happen they've got sufficient time to return to the airfield and land."




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