The Civil Aviation Authority has proposed new rules for pilot instructors after the death of a Katikati man during his first solo flight.

Gavin Harvey suffered serious head injuries when the single-seat glider he was flying for the first time crashed at Tauranga Airport on May 1, 2016.

Coroner Gordon Matenga reserved his decision at the inquest into Harvey's death in Tauranga yesterday, after the CAA proposed changes to an instructor manual.

Tauranga Gliding Club chief flying instructor James Graham said the CAA would amend the Gliding New Zealand Instructor Manual Part 2 as a result of Harvey's death.


New rules included students must have at least 10 to 15 flights in a high-performance glider before going solo and allowing instructors to have radios on the airfield, providing the control tower was notified for "controlled communication".

Instructors would also have to get consent from a panel of representatives before allowing a student pilot to go solo.

Civil Aviation Authority safety investigator Colin Grounsell said a lack of guidance in the training manual was identified as an issue and the CAA would be amending the rules.

Harvey was one of Edouard Jevenoges' students at the Tauranga Gliding Club.

Jevenoges accompanied Harvey on a 15-minute flight check on May 1, 2016, before clearing his student for his first solo flight in an "easy to fly" PW-5 single-seat glider.

He said landing procedures were not covered in the check flight but Harvey was a competent pilot and his behaviour in the air was "normal".

"If he had said he wasn't comfortable he would not have flown."

Jevenoges watched from the ground as Harvey navigated the plane on his own.


"I could see from the take-off that he understood what I had explained. He seemed to have good control of the aircraft."

As Harvey approached to land, Jevenoges said he was too high from the ground but still low enough to land safely. He had also suddenly closed the airbrakes.

Jevenoges then lost sight of the aircraft after it had crashed behind a hangar.

"I heard two bangs and I knew something was wrong," he said.

If Harvey had left the airbrakes alone, Jevenoges said he could have landed on the first third of the runway.

"If he kept flying he would have landed safely. Nobody knows why he did what he did."

Jevenoges said if he had had a radio he could have instructed Harvey to safety.

A CAA investigation found Harvey's glider overshot Runway 4 and he instead signalled he would try the opposite runway, No 22.

Tauranga Police Sergeant Craig Madden said it appeared Harvey stalled the aircraft while attempting a sharp left-hand turn, sending the glider into a downward spiral.

"It was almost vertical when it hit the ground."

Madden said Harvey had been flying gliders since August 2015 and had made about 40 flights before his first solo flight in the PW-5 which had been serviced in April 2016.

"That day's flight was the first since it was serviced."

Harvey suffered fractures to his skull and severe swelling on the brain in the crash and was flown to Waikato Hospital.

"CT scans showed extensive injuries with no chance of survival," Madden said.

A post-mortem report indicated Harvey died due to severe head injuries.

Harvey's wife, Melanie, attended the inquest with mother-in-law Cindy and thanked the authorities for their clear communication during the investigation.

When the coroner suggested Harvey had died doing a new activity he had loved and enjoyed, his wife agreed.

"That is how I have come to peace with it."