17 Oct 2011

CAA investigator in Samoa over helicopter crash

6:44 am on 17 October 2011

New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority says an investigation into a fatal helicopter crash in deep water north of Samoa is underway.

The crash occurred on October the 2nd near a fishing boat and while the passenger survived, the 34-year-old pilot Mexican pilot, Eduardo Lavalle, was killed.

The New Zealand-registered R44 belonged to the purse seiner Preton, which is owned by Tri Marine International, the company that is taking over the former Samoa Packing plant in Atu'u.

The aviation authority's Bill Sommer says the investigator is still trying to find out exactly where and how the crash happened.

"These vessels quite often use helicopters for fish spotting, we understand it was on that kind of task at the time. It appears to have had some kind of mechanical fault when they were attempting to get back to the ship."

Bill Sommer says the wreckage has sunk so the investigator is hoping to get some answers from the crash survivor and the boat crew.