Pair to file own report on chopper wreckage

JOHN EDENS IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 05:00 29/11/2012

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Private investigators aim to mount an independent crash analysis of the wreckage of a Hughes 500 helicopter despite a Civil Aviation Authority decision against a physical probe.

The wreckage of the helicopter, which went missing in 2004 with pilot Campbell Montgomerie, 27, from Waikato, and his English passenger Hannah Rose Timings, 28, was found in Fiordland last week near the head of Humboldt Creek.

Remains recovered from the scene were sent for forensic analysis and DNA identification but the wreckage was not removed.

Retired Civil Aviation Authority investigator Tom McCready and Westpac search and rescue pilot Darryl Sherwin privately investigated the disappearance of ZK-HNW.

On Tuesday, Mr McCready criticised a decision by the authority not to fully investigate and said yesterday that he and Mr Sherwin were preparing an independent report to submit to the coroner.

Wreckage was normally recovered from Department of Conservation land and it was possible the insurer of the Hughes 500 could cover wreckage removal, he said.

"In my time I had a number of [crashes] on the sides of mountains and we still removed the wreckage.

"What we are interested in from our side, as CAA have declined an investigation, is who is in charge of the wreckage now?"

A full investigation was needed and he was particularly interested in recovering the Hughes' GPS, a Garmin 195, and the helicopter's emergency locator beacon.

Lessons could be learned regarding the GPS as earlier models were implicated in other aviation accidents in the early 2000s, he said.

"Darryl and I will write a report for the coroner. I did agree on Tuesday out of decency [to supply material to the CAA] because this is about people not getting hurt."

Previously, information gleaned by Mr McCready from the wreckage of a crashed Hughes 300 was used to introduce a mandatory manufacturing modification in New Zealand.

The locator beacon on the Hughes 500 was an earlier 121.5-type and information from the wreckage could be useful, he said.

While police initially said the authority was investigating, CAA spokesman Mike Richards said there was nothing new to learn and a full-scale investigation was not going ahead.

Essentially, the CAA plans a desktop analysis of the crash but there were no plans to recover wreckage for a physical examination at this stage, he said yesterday.

Ms Timing's father, Phil, broke his silence last week, telling BBC Gloucestershire that losing a child left a big impression on parents and her brother and sister.

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"One of the fears a parent would have is ‘did they part-survive and stagger around' but that didn't happen so that's a sort of help.

"You just go on living, you don't forget about it - you certainly don't forget about her."

The helicopter flew from Queenstown bound for Milford on January 2, 2004, but set down near the Howden Hut on the Routeburn track in bad weather.

After taking off from the hut helipad, they were not seen again and were declared dead at an inquest in Te Anau in August 2004.

- The Southland Times

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