A pilot whose helicopter crashed on the summit of Mt Victoria in Wellington most likely died because of shoddy overseas work on his aircraft, a coroner's report has concluded.
Andrew Ian Shaw, 52, of Kimbolton, near Feilding, died of chest injuries on January 15, 2001, after his Bell helicopter, which was being used to transport soil from a construction site, went out of control and hit the mountain.
Two Canadian tourists were nearly hit by the chopper while other onlookers, including then United States Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, rushed to aid Shaw, who died at the scene.
An investigation conducted by the Civil Aviation Authority showed the cause of the crash was a sudden failure of the helicopter's hydraulic system, caused by a fluid leak from a fatigue crack in a pressure line.
The leak resulted from "over-tightening of the pressure line fitting, most likely overseas, by a person unknown with a poor level of aviation engineering knowledge and skill", Wellington Coroner Garry Evans found.
The Huey helicopter was built for the US Air Force in 1966 and had been owned by the California Department of Forestry before coming to this country.
Hydraulic system problems had not been noted either in the US or here, where engineering practices would have required replacing the pressure line, the coroner's report said.
Instead, a fitting of the pressure line had been over-tightened, most likely in the field by a poorly trained person, Mr Evans found.
* A fatal helicopter crash near Masterton three years ago was caused by the pilot being unable to control his aircraft, Mr Evans found.
Roy Kritos, 36, died on January 17, 2003, during one of his first solo flights in a Robinson R22 helicopter. The craft smashed into a paddock, resulting in massive injuries to Mr Kritos.
An investigation by the Civil Aviation Authority found the crash was probably due to low main rotor blade rotation, which Mr Kritos was unable to control.
That may have happened because Mr Kritos took his hand off the collective pitch control lever. If the blades are tilted too much, they slow and the helicopter cannot stay airborne, according to the coroner's findings and the CAA report.