Published date: 10 March 2022

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has released its report into the cause of a fatal accident at Kakatarahae Hill, Coromandel Range on 14 June 2019.

The safety investigation report details the findings of the CAA’s investigation into the accident which caused the death of the pilot on 14 June 2019.

The pilot, flying a Van’s Aircraft Incorporated RV-12 departed from Whitianga aerodrome on a private flight to Ardmore aerodrome. The aircraft wreckage was located on the western slope of Kakatarahae hill, Coromandel Range, approximately seven nautical miles (NM) south-west of Whitianga.

It was determined the accident occurred as a result of controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) in poor weather conditions, below the minima required by visual flight rules (VFR). Satellite imagery around the time of the accident showed areas of cumulus cloud moving across the Coromandel, particularly the Coromandel Range.

Although the dangers of flying VFR into IMC are well known, these types of accident demonstrate that pilots still decide to continue flying into adverse weather conditions, even though indications suggest an alternative course of action may have been safer.

Many factors can influence a pilots’ decision-making ability during a flight. As such, the CAA emphasises the importance of pilots assessing both weather conditions and conducting their own self-assessment as to whether they are fit to fly, and making the appropriate decisions accordingly.

The CAA has produced information relating to pilot’s health, including the ‘Are you fit to fly?’ poster using ‘IMSAFE’ which provides guidelines prompting pilots to make the decision whether they are safe to fly or not.

This accident also provides a timely reminder of the risks associated with reliance on technology for flight into deteriorating weather conditions.

A copy of the CAA safety investigation report is available on our website.


A CAA safety investigation seeks to provide the Director of Civil Aviation with the information required to assess which, if any, risk-based intervention tools may be required to attain CAA safety objectives.

The purpose of a CAA safety investigation is to determine the circumstances and identify contributory factors of an accident or incident with the purpose of minimising or reducing the risk to an acceptable level of a similar occurrence arising in the future.

The safety investigation does not seek to ascribe responsibility to any person but to establish the contributory factors of the accident or incident based on the balance of probability.

Please contact the CAA media team for further information:
027 763 0000 |