Update: Inquiry into helicopter accident at Kekerengu River

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

A Transport Accident Investigation Commission team has been on site today at the Kekerengu River mouth, commencing investigations into the causes and circumstances of a fatal accident involving an Airbus Helicopter EC120.
The Chief Investigator of Accidents, Harald Hendel, says the helicopter with five persons on board lost control, descended and impacted shallow water close to the beach at around 12:40pm yesterday, 15 December 2020. 
“This opening stage of the investigation has involved a great deal of work by the on-site team and their colleagues in Wellington,” said Mr Hendel.
“Today, the investigation team has been inspecting the wreckage, mapping the site, and talking with witnesses. We have removed the wreckage from the beach, taking it for safe keeping at TAIC’s technical facility in Wellington. 
“We will examine the helicopter’s components, seek any recorded data from the helicopter’s electronics, and obtain maintenance and other records from the operator.
“I would like to thank local people and emergency services, along with all those who are responding to TAIC’s call for witnesses to come forward.
“We are keen for anyone who may have captured the helicopter or the accident on video – perhaps on a vehicle dash-cam, a cellphone or other camera - to please contact TAIC as soon as possible; you can email TAIC at info@taic.org.nz.”
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.
The Commission’s inquiry will go through a number of stages including the gathering of evidence, analysis, the preparation of a draft report and publication of a final report.
“Through all of this, we will be careful to work sensitively around the family arrangements for those who lost their lives in this tragic accident. This is a difficult time for all,” said Mr Hendel.