Airwork plane wreckage in limbo

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 14:41 10/02/2014

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Solomon Islands aviation authorities still do not know what will happen to a New Zealand registered aircraft that crash-landed there last month.

They are hoping the plane body can be used for crash-fire training.

The Airwork Group Boeing 737-300 freighter was landing at Honiara's Henderson Field when its landing gear collapsed. None of the three crew members was injured.

The aircraft was under charter to the Australian freight company Toll.

The Solomon Star quoted the director of civil aviation, George Satu, saying investigations into the crash were continuing and a final report should be presented soon.

Investigators were expecting data from the flight data and voice recorders to be available shortly.

A team consisting of six investigators from the US, New Zealand, Australia and the Solomon Islands are conducting the investigation.

Satu said he did not know if the plane was to be written off.

"It will depend on the airline and insurance company to make any decision on the fate of the aircraft," he said.

A final decision was up to Airwork and the insurance company Airclaims NZ Ltd.

Satu said that if the plane was to be written off, he would ask its owner to hand over the body so the Solomon Islands rescue crews could use it for fire-training purposes.

Its owner will have to remove all the equipment first before leaving the body behind.

Solomon Airlines want the aircraft removed as soon as possible because it is taking up too much space at the domestic terminal.

An Airwork spokesman would not comment other than to note the investigation was continuing.

The crashed aircraft is 24-years-old.

Within a day of the crash Airwork Holding Ltd stock on the NZX rose from $2.70 to its latest trade of $2.97.

Henderson Field was mostly built by the Japanese military after they occupied the Solomon Islands in World War II. Before they could make it operational the US Marines, then based in New Zealand, seized the island and airfield in what became the Battle of Guadalcanal.

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- Fairfax Media

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