The judge has reserved his decision on an appeal by the Labour Department against the sentence imposed on Safe Air after one of its engineers was killed while servicing an engine last year.
Renwick man Miles Hunter died while working on an engine at Woodbourne airfield, near Blenheim, on August 8.
Safe Air, a subsidiary of Air New Zealand specialising in aviation maintenance and repair, was convicted on May 30 on one charge under the Health and Safety Act and fined $56,250, and ordered to pay $22,500 reparation.
After hearing submissions from the Labour Department and Safe Air in the High Court at Blenheim yesterday, Justice Kos said it would be appropriate to increase the fine only if the district court judge had got his decision "quite wrong".
Labour Department lawyer Jackson Webber said the fine did not reflect the seriousness of the offence.
Since the accident, Safe Air had designed and installed gateways to be used when the engines were being tested to prevent workers from walking in front of them, Mr Webber said.
However, there had always been a significant hazard, with a risk of fatality, and the employer had failed to put the correct steps in place to manage the risk, he said.
Mr Webber cited other similar cases in which the employers had been fined more, and said Justice Kos would not be "tinkering" with the district court judge's decision if he increased the fine for Safe Air.
Safe Air lawyer Garth Gallaway said the cases Mr Webber cited were examples of companies using unacceptable risk for financial gain and Safe Air was not in that category.
The reparation was relatively low because Mr Hunter was a bachelor, he said.
Mr Webber said there was a lack of comprehensive written safety instructions for engineers working on running engines when no propeller was attached, and it appeared they relied on verbal instruction.
Mr Gallaway said the engineers were highly trained and intelligent, and similar practices had been used by Qantas engineers in Mangere for 20 years with no record of concern.
However, the day after the accident that caused Mr Hunter's death, Qantas changed its standard operating procedures.
Justice Kos said Mr Hunter's death was a tragedy and he could not make a snap decision because it would be used as a reference point in similar cases.
His written decision will be released within two weeks.
- The Marlborough Express