New TAIC inquiry - helicopter crash at Kekerengu River mouth

15 Dec 2020
TAIC investigators inspect the helicopter wreckage on the beach | Photo: RNZ- Tracy Neal
TAIC investigators inspect the helicopter wreckage on the beach | Photo: RNZ | Tracy Neal

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has opened an inquiry into the causes and circumstances of the helicopter accident at the Kekerengu River mouth at around 12:40pm today, 15 December 2020. 

The circumstances reported to date are that the Airbus Helicopter EC120 was traveling from Christchurch with five persons on board when it lost control, descended and impacted shallow water close to the beach.

Two persons on board have been reported as fatally injured, and three seriously injured in the accident. 

Harald Hendel, the Chief Investigator of Accidents, says there may be people who saw what happened, given the location of the accident adjacent to a busy café on State Highway 1. 

“TAIC is appealing for any witnesses – especially anyone who may have captured the accident on their vehicle’s dash-cam or other recording device- to please contact TAIC as soon as possible” said Mr Hendel. “Witnesses should email TAIC at” 

Mr Hendel has appointed an investigation team and they are scheduled to be on site tomorrow morning (Wednesday 16 December). 

“The Investigation team have expert knowledge of helicopter operations, engineering and maintenance. 

“Their initial work will include inspecting the wreckage, mapping the site, and talking with witnesses. Further evidence gathering in coming weeks and months will likely include examining the helicopter’s components, seeking any recorded data from the helicopter’s electronics, and obtaining maintenance records. 

In general, Transport Accident Investigation Commission aviation inquiries take the necessary time to reach completion, at which time the Commission will publish a Final Report on the accident, its causes and circumstances, and what can best be done to avoid such accidents happening again.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission opens an inquiry when it believes the circumstances of an accident or incident have - or are likely to have - significant implications for transport safety, or when the inquiry may allow the Commission to make findings or recommendations to improve transport safety.



Unauthorised persons are prohibited from entering the accident site. Refer TAIC Act s.12A

To preserve and protect the evidence, the Commission prohibits any person from entering and accessing the wreckage or any other evidence associated with and involved in the accident. The Protection Order includes a map showing the protected area, extending as a corridor 200m wide, covering beach and water approximately 150m north and 150m south of the reported final main wreckage resting location.

See downloadable Protection Orders in the Downloads box to the right hand side of this webpage.