CAA investigation could take up to a year

BROOKE GARDINER
Last updated 12:12 14/11/2012

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The wreckage of a helicopter that crashed near Wanaka on Thursday night killing highly respected Queenstown pilot Julian Kramer has been removed from the crash site but the investigation into the crash could take up to 12 months to complete.

Family and friends will farewell Mr Kramer, 52, who was also known as Julianne, in a service at the City Impact Church, Frankton, this afternoon. He was the Wakatipu Aero Club's operations manager and chief flying instructor.

Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Mike Richards said investigators cleared all wreckage from the site on Monday and had moved it into a secure storage unit in Wanaka.

Two investigators spent four days at the site trying to determine the cause of the crash and now face the laborious task of carrying out independent tests on individual helicopter components.

An investigations report could take six to 12 months to complete, depending on whether investigators needed to seek any outside opinions on any parts.

A well-respected pilot with more than 30 years' flying experience Mr Kramer, 52, was the sole occupant of the Robinson R22 when it crashed en-route to Queenstown Airport from Wanaka Airport on Thursday about 8.40pm.

A witness to the crash told Ben Gordon, the owner of the farm where the wreckage was found, he had seen the helicopter going along the Pisa Range and he thought it was going quite fast at a normal height when it "just fell out of the sky".

Mr Kramer was flying the helicopter, owned by Andrew Fairfax, back from Wanaka after the pair flew there earlier in the evening to collect a fixed-wing light aircraft.

Both pilots left Wanaka Airport about 8.30pm to fly back to Queenstown via the Cardrona Valley, with emergency services being informed the helicopter had crashed just 10 minutes later.

Mr Fairfax learned of the incident while he was waiting at Queenstown Airport for his friend to return.

The matter has been referred to the coroner.

NOTE: Julian Kramer preferred to be known as a woman by the name of Julianne and was widely known as such. The Southland Times has identified him as Julian because that is his legal name, it is the name released by police and it has been requested by his family.

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