25 Nov 2015

Fox Glacier drone survey completed

7:23 pm on 25 November 2015

A drone has shot footage less than 10 metres above the crashed helicopter on the Fox Glacier, providing mapping vital for recovering the remaining bodies and the wreckage.

Rescue helicopter attends to the last three fatal crash victims on Fox Glacier.

The recovery team leaves for Fox Glacier this morning during a break in the weather. Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

Seven people died when the helicopter crashed on the glacier on Saturday.

Four bodies were recovered the next day, but three remain at the crash site and bad weather is hampering their recovery.

Twelve people including an alpine cliff rescue team, a drone operator and a disaster victim identification team were dropped onto the glacier today about 10.30am.

The team aimed to recover the remaining three bodies from the wreck, but the break in the weather that allowed them to get onto the glacier only lasted about two hours.

A recovery team made it onto Fox Glacier during a break in the weather on 25 November 2015.

Four members of the team are expected to spend the night in a hut above the glacier. Photo: SUPPLIED / NZ Police

Most of the team has come back down off the glacier but four others will stay overnight.

West Coast Area Commander Inspector John Canning said no bodies were recovered but the team was able to complete a drone survey of the crash site, and create a staging area.

"We do have a SAR [Search and Rescue] team up in the Chancellor Hut that'll spend the night up there," he said.

"That's not something they're unaccustomed to; they've got all the comforts of home there."

Rescue helicopter used to recover the last three people who died in the crash.

The recovery team leaves the base for the glacier. Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

The drone survey is expected to help the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) understand the crash site.

TAIC spokesperson Peter Northcote said the drone had provided about half an hour of useful footage.

"It's allowed our engineering experts to be working with the alpine cliff rescue teams and police on appropriate ways to access and secure the wreckage for the work that's ahead."

The seven people on board the flight were: Andrew Virco, 50, and Katharine Walker, 51, from Cambridge, England; Nigel Edwin Charlton, 66, and Cynthia Charlton, 70, of Hampshire, England; Sovannmony Leang, 27, and Josephine Gibson, 29, of New South Wales, Australia; and New Zealand pilot Mitch Gameren.

A recovery team made it onto Fox Glacier during a break in the weather on 25 November 2015.

The drone survey is expected to help TAIC understand the crash site. Photo: SUPPLIED / NZ Police