New Zealand Helicopter Association (NZHA) Urges Action on Critical Aviation Safety Issues

Wanaka Fatal Helicopter Crash Report – MD500D ZK-HOJ

New Zealand Helicopter Association Statement – 13 June 2024

New Zealand Helicopter Association (NZHA) Urges Action on Critical Aviation Safety Issues

The New Zealand Helicopter Association (NZHA) is calling for decisive action to address significant safety concerns in the aviation sector, following the release of the Transport Accident Investigation Commission’s (TAIC) final report on the 2018 MD Helicopters 500D ZK-HOJ in-flight breakup near Wānaka Aerodrome. The accident resulted in the loss of three lives.

Ensuring Load Security in All Conditions
Helicopter operators should ensure the security of loads under both normal and abnormal conditions. The TAIC report identified that unsecured cargo played a crucial role in the sequence of events leading to the accident. The rules only require loads to be secured for normal flight conditions. This should extend for abnormal conditions that could be experienced in an incident or accident.

Importance of Correct Defect Repair Techniques
The investigation revealed critical failures in the helicopter owner’s maintenance practices, particularly with the door-latching mechanisms and windscreen repairs, in the leased helicopter. NZHA insists that correct defect repair techniques are vital. Maintenance procedures must adhere to manufacturers’ guidelines to ensure the integrity and safety of all helicopter components.

Adhering to Flight Manual Limitations
The association also stresses the importance of following flight manual limitations. TAIC reports continue to identify deviations from published weight and balance procedures.

Ambiguity in Crew Member Definition
One of the most pressing issues identified is the ambiguity in the definition of a crew member by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). This issue has been ongoing since 2007 and is yet to be correctly addressed. The recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) 23-01 has failed to address industry concerns adequately. NZHA is disappointed with the CAA for its poor policy work and lack of comprehensive information provided for consultation. This repeated consultation process is resulting in prolonged ambiguity that could compromise safety. Equivalent international rules are clear and unambiguous, however, CAA are intent on overcomplicating its interpretation.

Delays in Report Publication
NZHA is particularly concerned about the prolonged timeline in publishing critical safety reports. The near six-year delay in releasing the final report on the Wānaka accident is not acceptable in the modern environment and is detrimental to flight safety. Timely publication of such reports is essential to implement corrective actions promptly and prevent similar accidents in the future.

Need for Detailed In-Flight Breakup Surveys
The association calls for more detailed surveys on in-flight breakups and better coordination between investigating agencies. The handover process between agencies must be seamless to ensure thorough investigations and swift implementation of safety recommendations.

The NZHA remains committed to working with the CAA, aviation operators, and other stakeholders to enhance safety standards and practices. The association believes that through collaborative efforts and adherence to practical safety protocols, the aviation industry can achieve safer skies for all.

For further information, please contact:

Richard Milner
Executive Officer, New Zealand Helicopter Association (NZHA)
Via our contact form
Phone: +64 27 273 3784


Download this statement as PDF here

Read the Transport Accident Investigation Commission report in full here

One thought on “New Zealand Helicopter Association (NZHA) Urges Action on Critical Aviation Safety Issues

  1. tenacity says:

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