NZ probes lucky pilot's Skyhawk crash off WA : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

10:45 AEDT Wed 21 Mar 2001 NZ probes lucky pilot's Skyhawk crash off WA

Air force investigators from New Zealand today begin probing the second crash in a month of a Skyhawk jet belonging to the nation's defence force.

A 25-year-old pilot from the RNZAF's Number 2 squadron escaped uninjured when his A4 Skyhawk crashed about 90 nautical miles off the coast of Perth yesterday as it took part in joint military exercises with Australia.

Flight Lieutenant Phillip Barnes, of Rotorua, ejected from the stricken aircraft, one of four flying in formation, moments before it ditched into the Indian Ocean at 2.45pm (WST).

He was plucked unharmed from his life raft by a rescue helicopter within an hour of the accident.

The Skyhawk crash came a month after a fatal crash of another of the RNZAF jets off Nowra in southern New South Wales, and followed an incident in New Zealand on Monday in which an RNZAF Skyhawk severed a high-voltage power line.

The RNZAF said last night there was no preliminary indication as to the cause of the crash or any problems encountered by the Skyhawk under Flt Lt Barnes' control.

An RNZAF investigation team would work with an Australian military accident investigation team in Perth to determine the cause of the accident, Pilot Officer Karen Hill said from Auckland.

The crash off Perth was the second involving the RNZAF's Australia-based Number 2 squadron in just over a month.

The squadron is usually based at Nowra in New South Wales, where Squadron Leader Murray Neilson, 37, was killed on February 16 when his jet fighter crashed in flames in bush a few kilometres from HMAS Albatross.

The aircraft had failed to pull out of an aerobatic manoeuvre as Squadron Leader Neilson, from Wellington, trained for an air show at Avalon near Melbourne.

The RNZAF has not released initial findings from its probe into last month's fatal crash, but it is believed investigators are focusing on the possibility of pilot error.

Yesterday's accident takes to seven the number of crashes in the 30 years the RNZAF has operated Skyhawks.

Three Skyhawk pilots have died in those crashes.

-- Doris (, March 20, 2001


Jet at correct altitude Wellington: Air force investigators say a Skyhawk fighter jet that severed one of the main power lines to the West Coast on Monday was not flying below 76.25m.

The Skyhawk pilot made an emergency landing at the Woodbourne air force base near Blenheim just after 1pm, shortly after hitting the 110,000 volt national grid transmission line in the Buller Gorge.

An air force court of inquiry was convened at the Ohakea RNZAF base near Palmerston North on Monday to investigate the incident which damaged the fighter jet's tail.

Air force spokeswoman Pilot Officer Karen Hill said the investigation team of two pilots and an engineer yesterday flew over the Lyell Creek area, west of Murchison, where the incident occurred, and would revisit the area later in the week.

Initial investigations indicated the aircraft was not below an altitude of 76.25m when it hit the transmission line.

Military aircraft are authorised to fly down to a minimum altitude of 76.25m in designated areas.

The air force confirmed yesterday the damaged Skyhawk and an accompanying aircraft, both from No 75 Squadron at Ohakea, were taking part in an authorised low-level navigation exercise.

The damaged fighter made a safe emergency landing at Woodbourne after the incident and the accompanying jet flew on to Ohakea.

Plt Off Hill said the court of inquiry was continuing, with investigators concentrating on evidence from the pilot and data retrieved from the aircraft's recording system. The investigation is expected to take at least two weeks.

Plt Off Hill said the Skyhawk pilot's details were not being released, but she confirmed he was an experienced pilot who had been with the air force for years. - NZPA

Wednesday, 21-March 2001 date=21Mar2001&object=0320334306&type=html

-- Doris (, March 22, 2001.

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