The Civil Aviation Authority has this week withdrawn charges against Sky Sports Ltd, and its director Martin Lloyd, for alleged breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
The charges followed an investigation into a fatal accident at the Hood Aerodrome in Masterton in 2019. The CAA investigated the circumstances of the accident, looking at the radio communications, flight paths, compliance with aerodrome rules and the operations of Sky Sports Limited and other aerodrome users.
The charges had alleged that the company and its owner had not done enough to ensure safety for its workers and others.
Prosecutions require a robust process of evidence analysis to be followed and high standard of proof to be met. The CAA must also constantly review its prosecutions, to ensure it is fairly discharging its responsibilities as a safety regulator and does so by using expert evidence and prosecution specialists.
Shortly before trial, the CAA received defence expert evidence that focused on an alternative view of the key crash factors. Considering the defence perspective, combined with ongoing review and analysis by the CAA of the evidence, led the CAA to make the difficult decision not to proceed to trial, and that it was not in the public interest to do so.
The CAA has advised the families of the victims, the defendants and the District Court, of its decision.
Hood Aerodrome is an uncontrolled aerodrome - where pilots must comply with flight circuit procedures in order to fly safely without air traffic control. Local aerodromes produce local procedures for their circuits and the CAA’s safety message to pilots is that those procedures, known as the AIP (Aeronautical Information Publication) must be followed. Shortly after the accident the CAA issued a formal safety message to reinforce this. *
Since the accident, the grass runway involved in the midair collision was closed, and Hood Aerodrome is seeking to implement a new safety system while operating the two remaining runways.
Please attribute to: David Harrison, Deputy Chief Executive Aviation Safety, CAA
* https://www.aviation.govt.nz/assets/safety/Safety-message-aerodrome-circuit-procedures.pdf [PDF 476 KB]
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