Pacific Blue pilot elects trial by jury for 'late takeoff'

The Pacific Blue pilot who denied breaching civil aviation rules during a late takeoff from Queenstown Airport has elected trial by jury.

The 52-year-old Papakura airline pilot, who was granted interim name suppression, appeared before Judge Dominic Flatley in the Queenstown District Court yesterday.

In June, the pilot's lawyer entered not guilty pleas to charges of operating a Boeing 737 in a careless manner that caused unnecessary danger to persons, passengers and crew and operating an aircraft in a careless manner.

The Civil Aviation Authority laid the charges against the pilot after a Sydney-bound flight departed Queenstown at dusk on June 22 last year.

Queenstown Airport is surrounded by mountainous terrain and the airline's rules say aircraft must not take off with less than 30 minutes of twilight.

The airline and the flight's first officer were not charged.

Lawyer Phena Byrne, appearing on instructions, said the charge of causing unnecessary danger was electable and her client wished to elect trial by jury.

Crown prosecutor Michael Morris said the summarily laid careless manner charge would run alongside the indictable charge.

Judge Flatley granted an order for interim name suppression and remanded the defendant to a post-committal conference on October 7 in Queenstown.

The Southland Times