DOOMED: Flight design expert Don McGill demonstrates the flight path of the Skydive New Zealand plane.
The man who wrote the Skydive New Zealand plane’s flight manual has defended its alleged failings, the inquest into the fatal Fox Glacier crash heard today.
Four tandem skydive masters, four overseas tourists and the Queenstown pilot died when the Fletcher aircraft crashed soon after takeoff from the South Westland township’s airstrip on September 4, 2010.
Flight design expert Don McGill, of Aviation Design Solutions Ltd, returned to the witness box at the Coroner’s Court in Greymouth today to continue giving evidence.
He was involved with controlled flight tests of a similar Fletcher aircraft for two days last week that explored possible crash theories.
The Civil Aviation Authority initiated and watched the tests.
The flight manual had sufficient information for weight and balance calculations, which he used for the flight tests, McGill said.
He conceded it would be helpful for the flight manual to have information that made it easy for the pilot to make such calculations.
”I have written the flight manual, but in the end I submitted it to the CAA for review and approval,” he said.
The inquest had heard that the Transport Accident Investigation Commission and aviation expert Barry Payne criticised the flight manual for not being updated to reflect its new skydiving role.
It limited its use for calculating weight and balance, a key factor they blamed for causing the crash.
Engineering company Super Air completed the plane’s conversion from a topdressing plane to a skydiving aircraft two months before the crash.
The CAA reissued an airworthiness certificate after the plane’s conversion, including approving its flight manual.
The second witness for today, air accident investigator Mark Houston, has taken the stand and has harshly criticised TAIC for failing to investigate the plane’s engine for its possible role in the crash.
He has also raised other possible crash causes, including equipment failure.
– © Fairfax NZ News