1 Apr 2016

More wreckage recovered from Fox Glacier crash

4:47 pm on 1 April 2016

More wreckage from the helicopter which crashed on Fox Glacier late last year, killing seven people, has been recovered.

A mountaineer prepares helicopter wreckage for lifting from Fox Glacier.

A mountaineer prepares helicopter wreckage for lifting from Fox Glacier. Photo: Transport Accident Investigation Commission

The squirrel helicopter with six tourists and the pilot on board crashed after taking off from the glacier on 21 November.

Following the crash the main parts of the helicopter's wreckage were recovered but some parts were either buried under snow or had landed down inaccessible crevasses.

Transport Accident Investigation Commission chief investigator Tim Burfoot said belly panels, seats and fragmented parts of the helicopter were recovered yesterday.

"We knew certain parts were still on the glacier but we could not get them off following the crash, we asked local guides and pilots to let us know when parts became visible after ice-melt and that's what they did."

Mr Burfoot said the items were being sent to the commission's technical facility in Wellington for examination.

"We are still in the evidence collection stage of the investigation, but we have done examinations of the wreckage with international experts and manufacturers of the helicopter.

"Once we have examined the wreckage, we recovered yesterday, then we can sit down and analyse everything," Mr Burfoot said.

He said there was no indication so far on what caused the crash, and no concerns had been raised about the model of helicopter.

"We have not found any evidence that the crash has implications for helicopters of the same model operating."

Mr Burfoot said the main floor of the helicopter was jammed in a crevasse.

"A sheet of ice has come down on top of it, although some of the ice has melted it is still not safe to recover.

"We have the engine and transmission but it would be nice to get the floor piece as well, we are always hopeful we will recover it, but we are not willing to risk lives in order to do so," Mr Burfoot said.

He said if the floor piece became loose in the future it may be recovered but there was potential it could be lost forever as the glacier moves.

The seven people on board the flight were: Andrew Virco, 50, and Katharine Walker, 51, from Cambridge, England; Nigel Edwin Charlton, 66, and Cynthia Charlton, 70, of Hampshire, England; Sovannmony Leang, 27, and Josephine Gibson, 29, of New South Wales, Australia; and New Zealand pilot Mitch Gameren, 28.

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