12 Jul 2012

Pacific Blue hearing adjourned

3:15 pm on 12 July 2012

A hearing in the Queenstown District Court to decide whether a Pacific Blue pilot operated a Boeing 737 in a careless manner has been adjourned.

The 54-year-old man, who has name suppression, faces a $7000 fine and the judge has the discretion to suspend his pilot's licence for 12 months.

The pilot denies carelessly operating the plane after it took off from Queenstown Airport bound for Sydney on 22 June 2010.

The prosecution says the takeoff 20 minutes from the curfew instead of 30 minutes endangered 70 passengers and crew.

The defended hearing has taken a month so far. Judge Kevin Phillips is yet to set a date for when it will resume, with the defence and prosecution summing up their cases. He will then reserve his decision.

The defence had planned to call two senior managers from Pacific Blue to give evidence on Thursday but lawyer Matthew Muir finished his case, giving no indication as to why they were dropped.

Judge Phillips told the court that he was less than impressed with testimony given by the accused's co-pilot Christian Rush last week.

Mr Rush said the workload of the crew meant the flight into and out of Queenstown was unsafe. He told the court he did not like the stress and workload because it was too hard and advised Pacific Blue to take him off the Queenstown roster.

But Judge Phillips said on Thursday that Mr Rush's demeanour was unprofessional and comments about the stress and workload being too hard were strange coming from a professional pilot.