Otago microlight crash: Pilot let passenger fly aircraft

The pilot killed in a microlight crash near Hyde, in Otago, more than two years ago had let his passenger take the controls, an accident report shows.

The Civil Aviation Authority has released its report into the investigation of the fatal crash which happened on a private cross-country flight in June 2017.

The Rans Aircraft S-19 Class 2 Microlight was part of a planned ‘‘group fly away’’, with seven other aircraft, from Taieri Aerodrome to Omarama Aerodrome for a group lunch on June 25, 2017.

About 11.30am that day, while the aircraft was cruising at approximately 5200 feet, it left what was described as ‘‘controlled flight’’ and crashed.

Investigators found the pilot had let the passenger fly the aircraft and, although the passenger was himself a pilot, he was not familiar with the particular microlight and its sensitive electric trim system.

The CAA said in its summary that there were risks associated with allowing someone who was not appropriately qualified to manipulate the controls of an aircraft.

‘‘Pilots are reminded that the only time someone else who is not appropriately qualified can take the controls of an aircraft is in the presence of a qualified flying instructor.

‘‘Unlike the general pilot population, instructors are trained to recognise when things are going wrong, and to take the appropriate remedial action in a timely manner,’’ the CAA report said.

Instructors also used procedures to hand over control of the aircraft, to prevent situations where either or both pilots were attempting to fly the aircraft at the same time, or nobody was in control of the aircraft.

The CAA also said the use of flight following (tracking) services could reduce the time spent searching for a missing aircraft, and subsequently increase the chance of survival while waiting for rescue.