Judge issues contempt warning to pilot's wife

Last updated 14:00 10/07/2012

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A judge has warned the wife of a Pacific Blue pilot on trial in the Queenstown District Court to refrain from contemptuous comments during proceedings or face jail.

The Papakura pilot, 54, who has interim name suppression, appeared before Judge Kevin Phillips charged with operating a Boeing 737 in a careless manner on June 22, 2010, a charge laid by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The pilot's wife was asked to leave the court yesterday afternoon after making a comment regarding a question posed by prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch.

In court this morning, Judge Phillips told her the comment was uncalled for and contemptuous of his court.

"Normally people in contempt are sent to jail.

"If the comment is repeated it will result in you going to jail. Your husband has got a hard enough task.''

She apologised to the prosecutor and the court and withdrew the comment.

Defence lawyer Matthew Muir said the couple were under extreme emotional pressure.

During cross-examination, Mr Pilditch asked expert witness Stuart Julian whether the pilot was free to choose to takeoff in stronger winds despite Pacific Blue operational manuals prescribing a cross wind limit of 16 knots.

Mr Julian, a commercial airline pilot and instructor, said a pilot was required to give his best endeavours to comply with company takeoff settings.

CAA allege the pilot, who departed at 5.25pm, should not have taken off after 5.14pm because rules stipulated departing aircraft needed at least 30 minutes before civil twilight cutoff at 5.45pm.

The defence case argues the pilot's actions were correct, Pacific Blue policies and manuals were inconsistent and any breach of requirements, if demonstrated, was below the level of carelessness.

The hearing continues.

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- The Southland Times


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