2 Jul 2012

Takeoff procedures at Queenstown flawed, court told

10:30 pm on 2 July 2012

Takeoff procedures for Queenstown Airport are open to confusion, a court has been told.

A hearing has resumed in the Queenstown District Court for a Pacific Blue pilot charged with carelessly operating a Boeing 737 in June 2010.

The Crown says the pilot, who has name suppression, put the lives of 70 passengers and crew at risk on the flight bound for Sydney and committed a gross abdication of duty.

The pilot will take the stand in coming days to explain why he took off after the airport's daylight curfew in low cloud, high winds and with a storm approaching.

In May this year, Crown prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch told the hearing if something had gone wrong the plane would have crashed because it could not land on the runway, as it had no lights.

However, during cross-examination of a Civil Aviation Authority witness on Monday, defence lawyer Matthew Muir said the takeoff procedure at the airport has problems in the way it is written in pilot manuals and its execution.

Mr Muir said that formed the basis for why the pilot made the decisions he did when he took off at twilight.

The co-pilot will also give evidence in the hearing, which is set down for two weeks.