Pilot should have heeded forecast

The pilot of a helicopter that crashed in Central Otago in 2016 should have delayed his trip or looked for an alternative route, an expert witness says.

Helicopter pilot and instructor Simon Spencer-Bower, of Wanaka, was giving evidence on the sixth day of the trial of Athol man Murray Sarginson in the Queenstown District Court yesterday.

Sarginson was the pilot of a Robinson R22 helicopter that crashed in foggy conditions near Lindis Pass on April 30, 2016.

His passenger and business partner, Otautau man Liam Edwards (32), died at the scene soon afterwards.

Mr Spencer-Bower was asked by Civil Aviation Authority lawyer Stephanie Bishop how he would have interpreted and reacted to a weather forecast on the day of the crash.

He replied it would have alerted him to the likely presence of an inversion layer of cloud in the valleys and basins in the Lindis Pass area.

Such cloud was a common occurrence in Central Otago and the Mackenzie Country during an anti-cyclone weather pattern, he said.

''I would anticipate I would have to fly around it, or seek a way to fly under it.''

Because a Robinson R22 was required to operate according to ''visual flight rules'' - flying only in weather conditions where the pilot can see where the aircraft is going - and did not have an artificial horizon instrument, it was critical for pilots to avoid cloud and fog.

''It's my opinion the pilot did not obtain this weather report because he would've avoided this area of low crowd if he had known it was there.''

Sarginson, who was seriously injured in the crash, is facing four charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act and one charge under the Civil Aviation Act.

 

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