30 May 2016

Alpine Adventures choppers grounded by CAA

5:41 pm on 30 May 2016

All Alpine Adventures' helicopters have been grounded by the Civil Aviation Authority in the wake of a helicopter crash on Fox Glacier last year that killed seven people.

The single-engine Squirrel helicopter was taking six tourists on an aerial tour of the glacier when it crashed into a crevasse, killing all on board.

The accident happened in November last year, only moments after the single engine helicopter lifted off from the ice.

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

A recovery team made it onto Fox Glacier during a break in the weather on 25 November 2015. Photo: SUPPLIED / NZ Police

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission is still investigating the cause of the crash.

Alpine Adventures was issued a directive from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on Friday, grounding its fleet of 19 helicopters for 10 working days.

CAA said the action was taken in the public interest while doubts about the safety of the company's operation are resolved.

The company operates at five locations, including Fox and Franz Josef glaciers.

Alpine Adventures quality assurance manager Barry Waterland said the directive was not solely related to the Fox Glacier crash.

"It has derived from the crash box, but there are other matters that they have identified to us that need our urgent attention to be sorted out, and then come back to CAA and work with them on getting these issues sorted."

Mr Waterland said he could not disclose what the problem was with the helicopters.

"We are now working with the CAA to get the issues sorted out as soon as possible so we can get back in the air."

He said other companies were taking care of their clients and flying them to the glaciers.

"We are not sure what the long-term implications will be on the company, but we are doing everything we can to minimise them."

CAA director Graeme Harris confirmed the authority had suspended the air operation certificate of James Scott, who runs Alpine Adventures.

Mr Harris said the suspension action was taken in the public interest while doubts about the safety of the company's operation were being resolved.

"The action taken does not in any way pre-determine the outcome of the investigation which is still being carried out," he said.

The seven people on board the flight were: Andrew Virco, 50, and Ms Walker, 51, from Cambridge, UK; Nigel Edwin Charlton, 66, and Mrs Charlton, 70, of Hampshire, UK; Sovannmony Leang, 27, and Ms Gibson, 29 of New South Wales, Australia; and New Zealand pilot Mitch Gameren, 28.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs