A Pacific Blue pilot has told the Queenstown District Court he had not needed to observe the daylight cut-off time at Queenstown airport because he never intended coming back to land there if an engine failed.
The pilot, who has name supression, is charged with carelessly operating a Boeing 737 when taking off from the airport in June 2010.
He told the court on Wednesday that his emergency plan was always to fly to Christchurch if an engine had failed after takeoff.
He said the daylight cut-off was designed for an aircraft to return to Queenstown Airport with enough light to land.
But the pilot said because he was never planning to do that and because his operational manuals said he didn't have to return to Queenstown Airport after an engine failure, the cut-off didn't apply.
There was enough daylight to take off, he told the court, and they met the requirement for that, but by the time the curfew had lapsed they were above the cloud and on their way to Sydney.