Crash pilot still waiting for apology

By Hayden Donnell, Abby Gillies

Photo / Sarah Ivey
Photo / Sarah Ivey

The pilot who narrowly escaped death when his chopper crashed into the Auckland waterfront is still looking for an apology from the man who caused the accident.

Greg Gribble was installing the seven-storey, fibre optic Telecom Christmas tree on Te Wero Island, in Auckland's Viaduct Basin when his chopper plunged to the ground about 10.30am.

A preliminary Civil Aviation Authority report released today said the crash was caused when a supervisor pulled on a cable which hit the aircraft's rotor blades.

Mr Gribble this afternoon said the man who had pulled on the cable had refused to talk to him.

He had not received an apology, and the only explanation he had been given was that the man had a "rush of blood to the head".

The team had planned meticulously for the operation and it was difficult to know why it went wrong, he said.

"The guy won't talk to me. He's talking to the CAA, but not to me. That's what really annoys me.

"I'd just like to know why. They know exactly what caused it. I know exactly what caused it. But we don't know why the guy pulled on the cable. He had no reason at all to do it."

Mr Gribble said his business Helisika Helicopters had suffered in the wake of the crash.

"I'm just trying to pick all the pieces up."

The preliminary Civil Aviation Authority report said "massive out-of-balance forces'' tore through the helicopter after it struck the lifting line on November 23.

The helicopter was being used to raise a 25m tower for the Telecom Christmas tree.

After lifting the tower, the aircraft lowered and hovered at about 5m so the line could be removed from its hook by the rigging supervisor on the ground, said the report.

"When the rigging supervisor jumped up to grab the line, it instantly tightened and touched the helicopter's main rotor blades. The force of the impact caused major structural damage and the aircraft hit the ground,'' it said.

An ongoing investigation will look at the pre-flight safety briefings, pilot's experience and training, health and safety aspects, possible preventative measures, and any human factors that applied.

A full incident report could take up to 12 months.


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