An experienced Air New Zealand pilot has described the actions of a Pacific Blue pilot charged with operating a Boeing 737 carelessly when flying out of Queenstown Airport two years ago, as "typical industry practice".
Captain Stuart Julian, who has more than 13,000 hours flying experience, told the Queenstown District Court today the 54-year-old Auckland pilot, who has name suppression, had broken no rules.
"I consider the decision made and the decision making process, were all well made."
"I do not consider any decision unreasonable."
On June 22, 2010 the pilot left for Sydney in a Boeing 737 at 5.25pm, after the Pacific Blue evening Civil Twilight time of 5.14pm.
The flight was scheduled to leave Queenstown at 4.30pm, but the pilot had received news of a front passing through, which included reported crosswind levels of 26 knots at the airport.
Defence lawyer Matthew Muir asked the witness if he would also have taken off in the same conditions.
"Yes, and to provide context of that every take off that I undertake is a safe take off and this would be no different."
The Civil Aviation Authority claims the pilot operated the aircraft carelessly based on issues surrounding crosswind, cloud altitude, departure time and lighting.
Captain Julian told the court the rules surrounding these matters were not broken by the pilot and the decisions made by the pilot were "typical industry practice".
This included the pilot's use of windsocks as a measure for crosswinds, which captain Julian said provided a pilot with an accurate measure, and unlike wind reports from the control tower they were not exposed to transmission or technical delays.
The pilot facing charges had disagreed with the tower's reading of winds of up to 19 knots before take-off and assessed crosswind levels to be well under 16 knots.
"The captain must exercise the final authority in relation to the operation of the aircraft," Captain Julian said.
The video footage Captain Julian had seen suggested a crosswind "well below 16 knots" he said.
Captain Julian said the pilot would have been in the best position, even more so that the control tower, to assess the visibility of the flightpath and the weather.
The Bungy Four emergency contingency plan the crew had settled on that day would be at "the foremost of any pilot's mind" rather than the more "difficult and terrain critical'' figure-of eight pattern the prosecution claims he should have prepared for.
"Had I been the captain on the day knowing sufficiently the light, I would have planned the departure.''
Captain Julian has given evidence in three aviation accidents and said the flight's departure on June 22, 2010, did not put the passengers at risk.
Yesterday, the third week of the CAA's case continued, but during questioning from prosecution, lawyer Fletcher Pilditch stopped proceedings and told the judge that he had overheard a remark from the back of the court room along the lines of "that's a stupid question".
Judge Phillips asked a woman, who had been at the trial throughout "to please leave the court" which she did.