16 Apr 2013

Defence Force hearing finds helicopter pilot not guilty

5:43 pm on 16 April 2013

A Defence Force disciplinary hearing has found the man who led a fatal Anzac Day flight from Ohakea Air Base to Wellington not guilty of negligence.

Flight Lieutenant Dan Pezaro was accused of failing to abort a flight to Wellington on Anzac Day 2010 when the weather deteriorated.

He was leading a formation of three helicopters, one of which crashed at Pukerua Bay north of the capital, killing three personnel and seriously injuring another.

Flight Lieutenant Pezaro admitted flying in weather that was below minimum allowable flying conditions.

However, the hearing was told that several senior pilots had broken those rules, but not been disciplined.

In his decision, the Disciplinary Officer, Wing Commander Shaun Sexton, found orders did exist outlining minimum weather conditions for flying, but there was no clear direction on what to do in that situation.

He also found that while Flight Lieutenant Pezaro knew he could have discontinued the flight, there was reasonable doubt that he knew it was his duty to do so, given the customs followed by 3 Squadron at the time.