Rebecca Quilliam

Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the APNZ News Service office in Wellington.

No prosecution over dangerous cargo

The oxygen-generating canisters can become a life-threatening fire risk, but Air NZ's chief pilot, Captain Dave Morgan, says the airline was not told about the danger. Photo / Brett Phibbs, File
The oxygen-generating canisters can become a life-threatening fire risk, but Air NZ's chief pilot, Captain Dave Morgan, says the airline was not told about the danger. Photo / Brett Phibbs, File

The Royal New Zealand Air Force will not be prosecuted by the Civil Aviation Authority after it put the lives of hundreds of people at risk by illegally shipping chemical oxygen generators on a passenger flight to Canada.

The director of civil aviation Graeme Harris released an interim report today into the incident on an Air New Zealand flight to Vancouver in August 2009.

It revealed "significant failings'' within the RNZAF and a number of administrative and communication errors that led to the generators being put on the flight.

"Of particular concern is the incorrect labelling, categorisation and preparation of the cargo for shipping,'' Mr. Harris said.

The report was partly based on the findings of an RNZAF Court of Inquiry into the incident that was conducted in November 2009.

"The ongoing CAA investigation is not conducted to apportion blame. We are interested in promoting the improvement of systems, processes and procedures to reduce the risk of this type of incident occurring again.

Accordingly, and due to the passage of time, the CAA will not be prosecuting any of the parties involved,'' Mr Harris said.

It was expected the CAA would provide a final report and recommendations for any improvement in the processes involved in the shipping of dangerous goods, particularly those of military origin, in the first half of next year.

Mr Harris said he was very pleased with the co-operation the CAA received from all parties involved in the preliminary investigation, which confirmed there was a unified focus on the improvement of aviation safety outcomes.

Last week Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell admitted they had failed to tell Air NZ about the canisters and misunderstood its responsibility to tell the CAA about the incident.

The CAA is writing to airfreight agents and freight forwarders and reminding them of their existing disclosure responsibilities to airline operators around correct procedures for the carriage of dangerous goods.

- APNZ

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