Multiple factors in plane crash

JOHN EDENS
Last updated 05:00 15/08/2014

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An aircraft crash in a remote valley near Queenstown was probably caused by a combination of terrain, light and the angle of approach to landing, a report says.

Milford Sound Flights chief pilot Dave Cross, of Cromwell, and trainee Dan Noonan, of Queenstown, were badly injured when the plane crashed upside-down in the Von Valley in August last year during a training flight.

The aircraft, a Cessna 207, overturned on impact and somersaulted into bare, tussocky ground near a topdressing airstrip.

Yesterday, a Civil Aviation Authority spokeswoman said the company carried out an independent investigation and submitted a report.

The crew was training and, on approach to landing, the aircraft hit a small rise in the terrain 150 metres short of the airstrip. Crew did not use flaps as part of the exercise but inadvertently allowed the Cessna to descend too low.

The nature of the barren landscape, lighting from behind the aircraft and the "high nose" angle of approach contributed to the crash, the report said.

"Site evidence suggests the crew may have realised the mistake at the last moment and tried to go around but the aircraft clipped the terrain, causing it to collide heavily with the ground after a further 40 metres and overturn."

The pilots were on a training flight between Queenstown and Te Anau when the emergency beacon was activated.

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