15 Apr 2013

Contradictory orders given before fatal crash

9:38 pm on 15 April 2013

A pilot has told an Air Force disciplinary hearing at Ohakea Air base that orders given to a squadron the day it was involved in a fatal crash were contradictory.

The pilot was giving defence evidence for Flight Lieutenant Dan Pezaro, who was leading a formation of three helicopters flying from the Ohakea air base to Wellington on Anzac Day 2010 when the crash occurred.

Flight-Lieutenant Hayden Madsen, Flying Officer Daniel Gregory and Corporal Ben Carson died when their helicopter crashed at Pukerua Bay en route for a flypast at a dawn ceremony in the capital.Sergeant Stevin Creeggan was seriously injured.

Flight Lieutenant Pezaro had been charged with negligence. He is accused of failing to abort the transit flight to Wellington when the weather fell below minimum permitted flying conditions on 25 April 2010.

Squadron Leader Anna Shaw told the hearing on Monday that during her time on 3 Squadron she observed executive officers breaching minimum flying and weather conditions.

She said while the maxim was that the "can do" attitude must be tempered with caution, the squadron's culture from the top down outweighed that.

An officer who began a rewrite of the standing orders for 3 Squadron at Ohakea Base told the disciplinary hearing the orders were a shambles when he started it.

Squadron Leader Jim Rankin said the culture in the Squadron was defined by a common practice of 'getting things done' and junior pilots were more likely to follow what they saw senior officers doing, rather than sticking to the rules.

He said adherence to orders has been stricter since the Anzac Day crash, but there was still some confusion about them.