23 Nov 2012

Weather, pilot blamed for fatal PNG crash

10:26 pm on 23 November 2012

Pilot error and bad weather caused a crash on a Papua New Guinea island that killed three Australians and a New Zealander, a report has found.

The Trans Air charter plane carrying five people slid off the runway and burst into flames at Misima Island in Milne Bay on 31 August 2010.

Among the dead were pilot and Trans Air's co-owner Lesley Wright, 59, from Queensland, marine pilot Richard "Chris" Hart, 61, from Sydney and Darren Moore, 44, from Leonora in Western Australia, who was a PNG civil aviation flight operations inspector.

New Zealander Alexei Filyaev, 50, the sales manager for medivac company International SOS, was also killed.

New Zealand co-pilot Kelby Cheyne, 25, survived although he was injured in the crash.

PNG's Accident Investigation Commission released its final report on the crash on Friday and said the runway was flooded, making it hard for the plane to land and this affected the brakes, AAP reports.

The report said when the aircraft aquaplaned, the crew tried to discontinue the landing and go around the runway. But the aircraft overran the runway and hit terrain, eventually being destroyed by a post-impact, fuel-fed fire.

The report found the plane was affected by a tailwind and landed long on a runway that was too short with an unsuitably degraded gravel surface that was covered in water.

The investigation also determined that, after a previous similar incident, the airline operator did not take effective steps to prevent a recurrence.

"The accident serves as a timely reminder for pilots to ensure that their aircraft's performance is adequate for the conditions and to nominate the latest safe point at which to abort a landing in adverse conditions," the report said.