A Pacific Blue pilot on trial for alleged careless operation of a Sydney-bound passenger jet from Queenstown has described the crew's midwinter departure plan as plain common sense.
The Papakura pilot, 54, who has interim name suppression, appeared before Judge Kevin Phillips in the Queenstown District Court charged with operating a Boeing 737 in a careless manner on June 22, 2010. The charge was laid by the Civil Aviation Authority.
He told the court he calculated the aircraft could achieve a set heading height by a waypoint and he was compelled to identify a suitable alternate aerodrome in the event of engine failure.
He had great difficulty with comments saying the crew was required to plan for a return-to-land procedure flying a figure of eight rather than the planned contingency to Christchurch Airport, which has a 45m-wide runway compared with the 30m runway at Queenstown.
"That figure eight pattern is not easy to fly, it's in terrain, you're heading at some stage straight at The Remarkables.
"It's not simple, it's doable but given the choice it would not be my preferred option.
"We are given the choice.
"A lot of the criticism was on the basis that it was a front but the actual front had moved through.
"What I had to climb through was post-frontal cloud, we were not in it for a lot of the climb.
"None of this I regard as exceptionally difficult. To me this was just another day at the office, more difficult than many, I actually thought we did a good job in what we did."
Every departure plan included an engine failure procedure and it was the norm to fly a different route to the planned departure if an engine failed, he said.
He told the court exiting to the east coast if necessary was sensible and plain common sense.
The pilot joined Pacific Blue in 2005 as an Auckland-based captain and has more than 16,000 flying hours, including 6000 hours in 737s.
The hearing continues.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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