26 Oct 2011

Coroner criticises airport

8:20 pm on 26 October 2011

The inner workings of Paraparaumu Airport, on the Kapiti Coast, have been branded as Mickey Mouse by the coroner investigating three deaths from a mid-air collision.

A trainee pilot, James Taylor, and his examiner, David Fielding, were killed when their helicopter collided with a Cessna, being flown solo by Bevan Hookway.

Evidence from the past and present airport managers was heard in the Coroner's Court in Wellington on Wednesday.

It covered changes made since the crash, including getting all aircraft to fly in the same circuit and different flying heights for planes and helicopters.

But Coroner Ian Smith said minutes weren't kept at all airport meetings and in discussions, and he labelled the situation as "Mickey Mouse".

That was disputed by the airport's former manager, Richard Baldwin, who said the airport did not ignore useful feedback and took steps to be extra safe above and beyond its legal requirement.