Dead flier's father hails new probe
The Nelson-based father of one of the men killed in the 2010 Anzac Day helicopter crash is welcoming an independent inquiry into the air force's response to the accident.
The crash, near Pukerua Bay on the way to a dawn service flypast in Wellington, killed three airmen - Flight Lieutenant Hayden Madsen, co-pilot Flying Officer Daniel Gregory, and Corporal Benjamin Carson - with sole survivor Sergeant Stevin Creeggan, 39, suffering severe chest, leg and spinal injuries.
Today it was reported a senior air force officer, then-Squadron Leader Rob Stockley, had warned his superiors that helicopter crews were risking their lives five months before the crash.
He told bosses in an email that safety rules were being broken by Iroquois crews from Ohakea air base.
Crews were flying too low without approval, taking risks with bad weather and a culture of risk-taking had developed which could have fatal consequences.
The comments echo a Court of Inquiry report released last year that said the squadron had a culture of occasional "rule-breaking". The report said Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman is preparing to set up an independent inquiry overseeing the air force's response to the accident.
Corporal Carson's father Andrew said this morning that he was glad to hear that Dr Coleman was taking action.
"It's brilliant, it's got to be done.
"We have asked him, we have asked the minister of justice, we have asked the prime minister. All of a sudden the view seems to have changed somewhat."
He said Mr Stockley's claims of a dangerous "can-do" culture were credible.
"The culture was there and it was known. The thing is that the people in charge hadn't done anything about it, and that's an indictment on them."
Failing to take action against known serious health and safety risks would be unthinkable in any other industry, he said.
An independent inquiry was important, he said.
Mr Carson was scheduled to meet staff from the Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry and the Civil Aviation Authority on September 21, to discuss the family's options for a prosecution, and he was unsure how the independent inquiry would affect this.
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