The wife of a veteran Northland pilot who died after his glider burst into flames mid-flight hopes new safety moves will make flying safer for other pilots.
The CAA yesterday released its safety investigation report which found an in-flight battery fire was the likely cause of the crash which killed 72-year-old Ricco Legler in Kaikohe in 2017.
It said "fumes and smoke" would have filled the cockpit and caused Legler to lose control of the glider after the lithium polymer battery caught fire.
Legler's wife, Marina Formannoij Legler, said she hoped CAA's findings can bring about changes to make it safer for people who fly battery-powered gliders.
She said the batteries should be better positioned and protected while flying.
"It's really bad they didn't build the battery in a way that if something happens the person inside would not be affected that quickly.
"They need to make it safer for the pilot so if something happens to the battery they are able to land the plane.
"Ricco had absolutely no time to get the plane to the ground. It was all just too quick and the toxic fumes started appearing."
There are five safety recommendations in the report, including that the glider manufacturer change the flight and maintenance manuals to emphasise the possibility and severity of an in-flight battery fire.
The authority also recommended pilots consider fire detection, containment and fire-proofing systems.
Legler's son, Li Legler, said although the accident was a tragedy, he was "happy to know the CAA has implemented changes in similar aircraft so this type of accident can't be repeated".
"Ricco would have been really happy about that; to have contributed to the safety of this type of aircraft."
Italian-born Legler, from Russell, was a life-long aviation enthusiast and had been flying since his youth.
He had launched his Pipistrel Taurus Electro G2 glider from Kaikohe aerodrome at 1.40pm on November 16, 2017.
The alarm was raised when he failed to return from his solo flight, and the wreckage of his glider was found on farmland near Kaikohe aerodrome a few hours later.
The report said the fire broke out while the glider was soaring sometime between 2.15pm and 5.30pm.
The glider was making an emergency descent and approach to Kaikohe aerodrome when it exceeded its speed limitations.
This led to structural failure of the wings and the glider broke up in-flight, the report said.
It was the first battery fire on a glider in New Zealand, and the crash was "not survivable", the report found.
Legler, who was a Kaikohe Gliding Club member for at least 20 years, held a glider pilot certificate and private pilot helicopter licence.
He had 592 hours' experience on gliders, with 87.9 hours on the glider ZK-GEL.
The battery was a part of an Electro 40/30 electric motor used for self-launch take-offs and to sustain flights.
Aviation Safety deputy chief executive Dean Winter said flyers should ensure batteries are charged and properly maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions.
"Battery fires burn at a very fast rate releasing significant energy and toxic fumes. Within seconds a cockpit can be filled with toxic smoke.
"These fires can be deadly and spread quickly."
At the time of the crash, there were no other battery-powered gliders in the country, Winter said.
"We are also concerned any lithium polymer battery in any device or aircraft can cause a fire."
Marina said she was pleased with how the CAA conducted their investigation.
"They have been very thorough in their investigation and report.
"They took a long time, but I don't think they could help that very much. They came to see me, they were very compassionate and careful and explained everything.
"I'm happy about the way they behaved and have been very careful to get this report together."
Keith Falla, of Kaikohe Gliding Club, agreed the CAA investigation was "very thorough".
"I am pleased that after three years of uncertainty we now know the cause of the accident," he said.