26 Sep 2018

Probe into two accidents involving NZ-made aircraft

4:42 pm on 26 September 2018

Investigations are underway into two overseas accidents involving New Zealand manufactured aircraft.

The crash site of a Swiss-made Pilatus aircraft at Menuk mountain in Oksibil.

The crash site of the aircraft at Menuk mountain in Oksibil. Photo: AFP / INFORMATION UNIT OF PAPUA'S CENDERAWASIH MIITARY COMMAND

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission said it was helping an investigation in Indonesia, where eight people were killed when the aircraft they were in crashed on a mountain ridge on 11 August.

The commission was also helping a Swiss investigation into an incident six days later, in which the landing gear failed on a plane carrying 11 skydivers.

The accidents involved aircraft from Hamilton-based Pacific Aerospace.

While the two accidents involved the same type of aeroplane - a Pacific Aerospace Ltd 750XL - the circumstances of each were different, said the commission's air investigations manager, Peter Williams.

"The information provided by the state involved in Indonesia and Switzerland are that the circumstances were very different and unrelated," Mr Williams said.

"The manufacturer has over 100 aircraft with different operators around the world."

The aeroplane that crashed in Indonesia was reported to have been on an unscheduled passenger flight from Tanah Merah to Oksibil in the province of Papua, near the border with Papua New Guinea. It had one pilot and eight passengers on board.

Foreign media reported only a 12-year-old boy survived the crash that happened on the plane's approach to the runway.

The commission said the pilot had contacted Oksibil Tower and requested clearance to make a long final approach.

However, there was no further contact with the aeroplane, which was later found destroyed on a mountain ridge.

The Asia Times reported that aviation authorities were investigating whether bad weather might have contributed to the crash.

The region was notorious for air crashes, the Asia Times said. In 2017, a Cessna carrying food supplies crashed just short of Oksibil Airport, killing the pilot. Two years earlier a Trigana Air plane carrying 54 people went down in the mountains, killing all on board.

Early reports into the Swiss incident showed that the aeroplane was taking off near Dubendorf on 17 August, when part of the landing gear separated.

The circumstances reported at the time the investigation was opened were that the aeroplane was taking off from a grass runway, with the pilot and 11 skydivers on board, when the right main landing gear 'separated'.

The pilot managed to land the aeroplane and while it was badly damaged, none of the occupants were injured.

The commission said it was providing accredited representatives to assist with each investigation.

Pacific Aerospace said it was unable to comment while an investigation was underway.

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