The trial of an airline pilot charged with careless operation of a passenger jet has adjourned.
The pilot of the Pacific Blue flight, 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 judge said he was reserving a decision until after closing submissions and expressed appreciation to all involved in the case.
Counsel's ability to get on with the case and maintain a professional relationship made it much easier and bearable, Judge Phillips said.
The authority alleged the pilot, who left Queenstown for Sydney 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.
He was not entitled to plan for an emergency route to Christchurch if an engine failed and was required to plan for a return to land using a figure-of-eight manoeuvre, the prosecution says.
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.
Planning for a return to Queenstown was not required and he was correct to identify Christchurch as an alternate airport if an engine failed, the defence case argued.
Judge Phillips said the question for the court was whether the captain on that particular day fell below the standard of care expected of a reasonable and prudent pilot.
Under the Civil Aviation Act, the charge carries a maximum fine of $7000 for an individual.
The court also has the discretion to suspend a pilot's air transport licence for a maximum of 12 months.
Closing submissions by the prosecution and defence will be heard later.
- © Fairfax NZ News