Piper PA34-200T Seneca II, ZK-FMW, controlled flight into terrain, 8 km north-east of Taupo Aerodrome, 2 February 2005
Occurrence Date
Report Publication Date
Legacy Inquiry Number
On Wednesday 2 February 2005, ZK-FMW, a Piper PA34-200T Seneca, was on an air transport charter flight from Ardmore to Taupo with a pilot and 2 passengers on board. During the instrument approach to Taupo Aerodrome the aircraft deviated left of the published final approach track and at 1154 struck Mount Tauhara, 8 km from the aerodrome. The 3 occupants were killed on impact and the aircraft was destroyed.

No obvious cause for the accident could be determined. Autopsy reports showed the pilot had consumed cannabis, probably between 12 and 24 hours before the accident. While cannabis can adversely affect a person’s ability to operate an aircraft, its effects can vary greatly so this could not be conclusively identified as a cause of this accident.

Safety issues identified included:

· the lack of a test regime to identify the use of illicit drugs and alcohol in the transport industry

· inadequate medical standards for pilots with an aortic valve replacement

· the urgent need to have terrain awareness warning systems installed in Part 135 aircraft

Safety actions were initiated by the Ministry of Transport and safety recommendations made to the Director of Civil Aviation to address these issues
Taupo (-38.688307,176.161673) [may be approximate]