Pilot hurt in Taonui crash leaves hospital

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 12:00 11/04/2014

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The pilot of a Cessna plane that crashed spectacularly at an airport near Feilding has been discharged from hospital.

The Flight Training Manawatu instructor, a woman in her early 20s, was released from a Palmerston North Hospital ward yesterday morning, a hospital communications spokesman said.

The passenger, a man in his early 20s, remained in intensive care yesterday in a serious but stable condition.

Investigators spent yesterday interviewing those involved in the crash, which happened when the plane collided with a truck towing a digger on Taonui Rd about 5pm yesterday as the plane approached the Taonui Aerodrome runway to land.

The Cessna was on a Flight Training Manawatu flight.

"It was a high vehicle and they've just clipped it as they've come in to land," Flight Training Manawatu chief executive officer Michael Bryant said.

Neither of the two people on board had life-threatening injuries.

Bryant said the instructor was flying the plane as it came in to land. The training school would be assisting with formal investigations as well as carrying out its own internal investigation, he said.

Taonui Rd was closed for several hours on Wednesday night while emergency services conducted a scene examination of the wreckage, which remained in pieces in a creek across the road and crumpled on the runway.

A Higgins truck was transporting the digger past the airfield towards Campbell Rd when the digger's cabin was clipped.

CIB Detective Sergeant Ashley Gurney said police had spent yesterday interviewing witnesses while investigators from the Civil Aviation Authority took a lead role in interviewing those involved.

It was not yet known whether the plane had crashed because of pilot error, mechanical failure or another issue.

In 2010 Jessica Neeson and student pilot Patricia Smallman were killed when their plane was involved in a mid-air collision above Taonui Aerodrome. The airspace above it is uncontrolled. Pilots have to communicate their position and intentions with to other via radio.

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- Manawatu Standard

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