Saturday, April 06, 2013

Beechcraft G58 Baron, Kiwi Lion LLC, N254F: Accident occurred March 29, 2013 in Kawhia Harbour, New Zealand, New Zealand

NTSB Identification: WPR13WA177
Accident occurred Friday, March 29, 2013 in Kawhia Harbour, New Zealand, New Zealand
Aircraft: BEECH G58, registration: N254F
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On March 29, 2013, at 2320 universal coordinated time, a Beech G58, N254F, ditched in the ocean about 11 nautical miles west of Kawhia Harbour, New Zealand. The airplane was registered to Kiwi Lion LLC, and operated under the pertinent civil regulations of New Zealand. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed.

Just prior to the ditching, the pilot radioed a loss of engine power.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Government of New Zealand. This report is for information purposes only and contains only information released by the Government of New Zealand. Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)
P.O. Box 3555
Wellington 6140
New Zealand

Tel: (64) 4-560-9400
Fax: (64) 4-569-2024

Divers work to recover the bodies off Raglan.

The second of two bodies and part of the light plane which crashed off the Waikato coast last weekend have been recovered by Navy divers this afternoon. 

Eric Hertz, the chief executive of 2degrees mobile, and his wife Kathy were killed when their plane ditched at high speed off the Kawhia Coast last Saturday.

One body was brought up from the upturned plane wreckage 56 metres below the surface yesterday and a second body was retrieved today, police said.

In a statement, the family of the couple said the recovery of the bodies was an immense relief.

"Knowing that they can rest together in peace and that we can say our farewells is of huge comfort at this time.

"By safely recovering the aircraft, despite such challenging conditions and without serious injury to those involved, the rescue authorities have made a huge contribution to us and the wider aviation community. We can now look forward to one day understanding what happened.

"Again, we would like to acknowledge the determination of these people in pursuing such a difficult recovery. We hope the community of New Zealand does not need the services of these extremely committed people, but can assure them that if they do then there is a remarkable team ready to act in such testing times.''

Waikato police operations manager Inspector John Kelly said it was with a great deal of satisfaction, tinged with sadness, that he announced the successful recovery of the second body.

"At the same time the Navy has been successful in recovering a significant part of the wreckage. All staffed involved in the operation, both professional and volunteers, are privileged to have been able to return Eric and Katherine to their family and friends."

The bodies would undergo post-mortem examinations in Auckland.

"Family and friends of the Hertz's have been informed of the recovery and expressed their gratitude for the efforts of all the agencies involved," Mr Kelly said.

The remains of the Beechcraft plane would travel by sea to Auckland on the deck of the HMNZS Manawanui over the next 48 hours accompanied by a CAA safety investigator.

"The wreckage will be held in a secure workshop at the Navy base at Devonport for 72 hours and will be cleaned of saltwater or other debris from the ocean floor and will be closely examined for any initial signs of non-impact mechanical failure or other damage," CAA spokesman Mike Richards said.

"The incredible effort of the police and Navy has given us a much better opportunity to piece together what happened last Saturday," he said.

After the initial 72 hours of examination, the wreckage would be moved to the CAA's secure workshop in Lower Hutt where a detailed examination would continue.

There were three CAA investigators working on the accident.

"Essentially there are three components to the investigation: the man, the machine and the environment. The CAA will be reviewing all radar plots and records for the aircraft and its flight history including a full physical examination of the wreckage itself, the physiological reports on the pilot that come from the coroner and a review of the meteorological records and weather conditions on the day of the flight," Mr Richards said.

The plane that crashed off the coast of Kawhia last Saturday had undergone extensive repairs for damage when it ran off the end of an airstrip a year ago.

Once the wreckage and the bodies of its owner, chief executive of 2degrees Mobile Eric Hertz, and his wife Kathy have been recovered, investigators will look into the cause of the crash.

Hertz reported engine failure before ditching into the sea.

Two issues likely to be of interest to accident investigators are reports of the plane running off the runway in Raglan on February 12 last year, and the subsequent 10 months of repairs. A source in the aviation industry told of the Beechcraft Baron's landing incident.

"During its landing roll it encountered wind shear, which is a common occurrence at the coastal airstrip, and was extensively damaged during the overrun and encounter with the perimeter fence."

It was taken to Ardmore for repairs. After the repairs were completed, the plane flew to Christchurch on Christmas Eve.

Hertz took up the position with 2degrees in August 2009, saying he had accepted the job here because of his "addiction to the adrenalin".

The aviation source said the late model Baron, registered to Hertz's US-based company Kiwi Lion, arrived in Auckland from Hawaii the next month. The aircraft had since visited 16 New Zealand airports.

Two officials confirmed the Raglan accident involved a Beechcraft but did not confirm the aircraft was Hertz's.

Waikato police spokesman Andrew McAlley said he witnessed the February 12 incident.

"I was about 100m away and I saw the twin-engine coming into land but it overshot and smacked through the fence and ended up on the road."

Raglan fire chief Kevin Holmes said the fire service responded. "We went to investigate and it was quickly confirmed that the pilot was out of the aircraft and, as it had been pushed back clear of the road, it was no danger to the public."

The aircraft was understood to be severely damaged with scrapes and holes on the underside and was initially believed to be written off.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) investigated, but this week refused to release the incident report in light of last weekend's fatal crash.

Its magazine, Vector, carried an article on the dangers of Raglan's 646m grass airfield last year. "For the unwary or low-time pilot, however, Raglan aerodrome can present some interesting challenges because of the runway length and some visual illusions," it said.

Last year, the CAA required forward elevator cables on New Zealand's three Beechcraft Barons to be checked after one snapped before take-off on a plane in Australia.