1 Jul 2010

Air NZ rejects crash claim

1:04 pm on 1 July 2010

Air New Zealand has rejected suggestions its crew may have contributed to the crash of an A320 airbus off the French coast almost two years ago.

The five New Zealanders and two German pilots on board were killed when the plane, which was on a test flight, plunged into the Mediterranean Sea near the town of Perpignan on 27 November 2008.

A report by French court-appointed experts concludes the crew lost control of the plane as they tried to perform a low altitude, low-speed test in inappropriate conditions.

Air New Zealand says FlightGlobal website editor David Learmount has claimed the New Zealand crew encouraged the German pilot to perform the manoeuvre in frustration.

It says this claim is baseless and speculative. The airline says the flight recorder shows discussion about the low-speed check happened well before the German pilot began the test at his own initiative.

However, an interim report from French air accident investigators says the New Zealand pilot repeated a request to attempt the manoeuvre three minutes before the crash.

Airline Pilots Association executive director Rick Mirkin says Mr Learmount was wrong to speculate about the cause of the crash before the technical investigation was completed.