The Director of Civil Aviation Graeme Harris, has today, Saturday 20 July, 2019 suspended the airworthiness certificates of all 21 Gippsland GA8 Airvan aircraft currently operating in New Zealand.
Harris said “I have sufficient concerns about the safety of these aircraft to make it necessary for me to ground them until more is known about the cause of the 14 July crash in Sweden that killed all 9 people on board a GA8 Airvan”. (See https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48987169(external link))
“We do not take these steps lightly but when there is a reasonable doubt about the safety of an aircraft, the flying public, operators and pilots of the affected aircraft in New Zealand must be satisfied that the CAA will act with their safety as a priority.”
“Whilst I regret any inconvenience this grounding will cause and acknowledge its significant commercial impact; I simply cannot compromise when I have information that indicates any unacceptable risk.” Mr Harris said.
“I have been in contact with my Australian counterpart at CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) as the GA8 is Australian manufactured and they are the designated state of design and manufacture.
I understand that CASA has sent a technical specialist to Sweden to gain first hand insight into the progress of the crash investigation.
Based on information coming out of the initial investigation into the crash it appears that the aeroplane, at 4,000 meters altitude, suffered structural failure, but, at this time, the root cause of the accident cannot be confirmed,” he said.
Mr Harris said the grounding was effective immediately and would be continuously reviewed as further information becomes available from Sweden and Australia. He went on to say that CAA staff had spent the afternoon making contact with each of the 10 organisations operating the aircraft in New Zealand to let them know about the suspension.