Second crash for Hertz?

By Joanne Carroll

Eric Hertz. Photo / NZPA
Eric Hertz. Photo / NZPA

The plane that crashed off the coast of Kawhia last Saturday had undergone extensive repairs for damage when it ran off the end of an airstrip a year ago.

Once the wreckage and the bodies of its owner, chief executive of 2degrees Mobile Eric Hertz, and his wife Kathy have been recovered, investigators will look into the cause of the crash.

Hertz reported engine failure before ditching into the sea.

Two issues likely to be of interest to accident investigators are reports of the plane running off the runway in Raglan on February 12 last year, and the subsequent 10 months of repairs. A source in the aviation industry told of the Beechcraft Baron's landing incident.

"During its landing roll it encountered wind shear, which is a common occurrence at the coastal airstrip, and was extensively damaged during the overrun and encounter with the perimeter fence."

It was taken to Ardmore for repairs. After the repairs were completed, the plane flew to Christchurch on Christmas Eve.

Hertz took up the position with 2degrees in August 2009, saying he had accepted the job here because of his "addiction to the adrenalin".

The aviation source said the late model Baron, registered to Hertz's US-based company Kiwi Lion, arrived in Auckland from Hawaii the next month. The aircraft had since visited 16 New Zealand airports.

Two officials confirmed the Raglan accident involved a Beechcraft but did not confirm the aircraft was Hertz's.

Waikato police spokesman Andrew McAlley said he witnessed the February 12 incident.

"I was about 100m away and I saw the twin-engine coming into land but it overshot and smacked through the fence and ended up on the road."

Raglan fire chief Kevin Holmes said the fire service responded. "We went to investigate and it was quickly confirmed that the pilot was out of the aircraft and, as it had been pushed back clear of the road, it was no danger to the public."

The aircraft was understood to be severely damaged with scrapes and holes on the underside and was initially believed to be written off.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) investigated, but this week refused to release the incident report in light of last weekend's fatal crash.

Its magazine, Vector, carried an article on the dangers of Raglan's 646m grass airfield last year. "For the unwary or low-time pilot, however, Raglan aerodrome can present some interesting challenges because of the runway length and some visual illusions," it said.

Last year, the CAA required forward elevator cables on New Zealand's three Beechcraft Barons to be checked after one snapped before take-off on a plane in Australia.

- Herald on Sunday

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