Aviation expert criticises crash report

Aviation expert criticises crash report

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 12:00 23/07/2014
Crash
WARWICK SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ
LEARNINGS NEEDED: Captain Gary Parata, accredited air accident investigator at the coroner's hearing into the deaths of Flight Training Manawatu chief instructor Jessica Neeson, 27, and student pilot Patricia Smallman, 64.

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Captain Gary Parata has criticised a report into the mid-air crash at Feilding, saying it has not done enough to help other pilots avoid the same fate.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission released a report last year into the crash, citing the possibility all three pilots did not understand each other's radio communications.

The report also said the two planes should have been visible by all three pilots, but they had failed to see each other.

Jessica Neeson's responsibility as the senior person in her plane was singled out.

"The first priority for an instructor, as the pilot-in-command, is to maintain command of their aircraft and ensure its safety before attending to the training needs of the student pilot," the report said.

The report made recommendations, including saying pilots must make "clear, concise, accurate and timely radio transmissions", and that people need to keep a good lookout, watch out for blind spots and be aware of the limitations of the human eye.

But air crash investigator Parata said during the coroner's inquest yesterday that he was disappointed with the report.

There wasn't much about how people could improve their flying.

"It says: ‘See and be seen' and ‘hear and be heard', but we know all this already. We are not learning anything. They need to make suggestions as to how to do that better."

When the report was released, Neeson's mother Lyn Neeson told the Manawatu Standard she was also unimpressed with it.

She said it unfairly singled out her daughter because she was the instructor.

Her daughter would have been "actively listening" to any radio calls. She was also unimpressed at the commission's finding that high-intensity and anti-collision lighting and high-visibility paints could allow aircraft to be detected earlier.

She said it should be mandatory for planes in spaces like Taonui Aerodrome to be brighter.

During the inquest, coroner Tim Scott suggested to multiple witnesses that painting planes bright colours could help make them more visible.

Parata said most planes were white because the airline industry was "conservative", while Flight Training Manawatu chief executive Michael Bryant said certain bright colours could make planes harder to see in certain conditions.

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- Manawatu Standard

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