The deputy chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority has resigned after he told an airline he governs that a rival carrier was going to be grounded.
The authority grounded Tauranga-based airline Sunair Aviation on September 8 for the second time in nine months, suspending its Air Operator Certificate and Certificate of Airworthiness.
The CAA's deputy chairman Peter Griffiths has now resigned after making an "error of judgment" and telling rival carrier Barrier Air about Sunair's suspension before it took effect.
Griffiths, according to Companies Office records, is a director of Barrier Air and a part-owner via a separate firm.
"It should be acknowledged that Peter's intent was to offer Barrier Air assistance to Sunair in order to minimise the adverse effect on its customers and when he initiated the contact with Barrier Air he did not realise that the suspension was not yet in place," a statement from CAA said today.
"Despite that good intent, Peter freely admits to an error of judgement and has submitted his resignation from the Board. He has also apologised to Sunair for his actions," the authority said.
CAA chair Nigel Gould has apologised to Sunair's chief executive on behalf of the board.
"Having considered the circumstances of the case, which amount to a very rare error of judgement on the part of a board member, and the clear intent to assist Sunair, the chairman is of the view that the resignation and an internal debrief of the circumstances by the board are sufficient to address the issue," the authority said.
The CAA said the decision to suspend Sunair resulted from an audit of Sunair maintenance records.
"The findings of this audit highlighted a number of anomalies and omissions in maintenance records that called into question the reliance that could be placed upon the operator's control and conduct of aircraft maintenance," it said.
These findings created a reasonable doubt about the airworthiness of the aircraft operated by Sunair and the Operator's maintenance control and the quality assurance systems intended to ensure their airworthiness," the CAA said.
Sunair chief executive Dan Power said, in his view, there had been a breach of confidentiality.
He did not believe an internal debrief of the circumstances by the board was sufficient to address the issue and to ensure to the operations of the CAA were robust.