Slow findings release is death by a thousand cuts'

By Amie Hickland, Trevor Quinn

Carterton Mayor Ron Mark has criticised the gradual release of findings by the Civic Aviation Authority (CAA) regarding last year's balloon crash, which claimed 11 lives, describing its effect on relatives of the victims as "death by a thousand cuts".

Mr Mark said he was disappointed only parts of the CAA report had been released and that investigators did not wait until the final report was completed.

In recent days, the late balloon pilot, Lance Hopping, has been blamed by the CAA in their report. The report claimed he was not licensed to fly as his medical certificate to fly was not current at the time of the crash on January 7, 2012, which is a requirement for licensed pilots.

Mr Mark said he believes the release and drip-feed of details has been insensitive.

"I would have thought that government agencies would have had some sense of understanding of what happens when they drip-feed into the public arena," Mr Mark said.

"I would have thought they would have more compassion."

Mr Mark said he was disappointed reports like this keep coming out of the blue. He said similar views had been expressed by the victims' families.

The report said that failures by the 53-year-old contributed to the accident, which occurred when the balloon hit a power line near Carterton and burst into flames, killing all on board.

The report also criticised Mr Hopping for failing to brief the passengers on safety features such as a rapid deflation system and a parachute valve.

"I think everyone would be a lot happier if we waited for the final report," Mr Mark said.

- Wairarapa Times-Age

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