Pilot declined CAA interview over Queenstown incident

The pilot charged with careless use of an aircraft in an outbound flight from Queenstown almost two years ago declined to be interviewed by the Civil Aviation Authority about the incident, the authority's general manager told the Queenstown District Court this morning.

CAA general airline manager, Mark Hughes described a Pacific Blue pilot's actions of leaving Queenstown airport late in the day, on a wet runway and not being able to see clearly, resulted in a ''risk for all on board.''

He said the absence of an accident on that day, June 22, 2010, should not be considered a measure of a safe performance.

The court case is a result of the Civil Aviation Authority's allegations that a 54-year-old pilot, of Auckland, operated an aircraft carelessly when he breached the airline's rule flights could only leave at least 30 minutes before the evening civil twilight time of 5.45pm.

The case is in its ninth day in front of judge Kevin Phillips.

Mr Hughes, a former New Zealand Air Force member said after the incident the Pacific Blue pilot declined to be interviewed by the CAA.

An email was instead sent from the pilot on July 5, 2010 stating he manoeuvred lower than the required altitude to remain below cloud and a scenario of having to return to Queenstown was ''never going to happen ,'' Mr Hughes said.

''There was no evidence of pressure to depart the flight.''

He added the flight did have competitors from the television reality show The Amazing Race on board, but this should not have been a factor to the breach in departure time.

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