Monday, April 3, 2017

Aviation CEO claims Bendigo owners of crashed plane were still its licensed operators during fatal accident: Beechcraft B200 Super King Air, Corporate and Leisure Charters, VH-ZCR; accident occurred February 21, 2017 near Melbourne-Essendon Airport, Australia

An aviation company is distancing itself from last month's fatal plane crash in Essendon by claiming the aircraft's Bendigo owners were its registered operators at the time.  

Australian Corporate Jet Centre co-chief executive officer Vas Nikolovski told the Bendigo Advertiser on the afternoon of the crash they held the operating certificate for the aircraft.  

But he said yesterday his company was only told it was the registered operator three hours after the disaster. 

An bid by Bendigo-based MyJet to transfer the plane’s operating licence to ACJC was lodged on December 15 last year but stalled when it used an expired credit card to pay for the procedure. The application was cancelled on December 20 when they failed to amend the error. 

Only when Mr Nikolovski’s co-CEO Sam Iliades enquired in January about the progress of the transfer did he realise the original application expired and reapplied for the operation transfer. 

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal heard last month the Civil Aviation Safety Authority shifted the operating licence from MyJet to ACJC on February 16, five days before the plane crashed into the DFO shopping centre in Essendon.

CASA said it told both parties of the change, but Mr Nikolovski yesterday disputed its version of facts, saying it was only an email at 12.01pm on the day of the incident that notified ACJC of the change.  

His co-CEO, Sam Iliades, replied to CASA at 1.27pm, writing the plane was destroyed "and had nothing to do with our company".  

"Sad news all round but we won’t be requiring the certificate," Mr Iliades wrote. 

But Mr Nikolovski told the Bendigo Advertiser in the hour before that day the plane was registered to his Melbourne aviation company. 

"My Jet is the owner, although it's on our certificate to charter and use for commercial purpose," he said shortly after midday. 

“In order to be able to operate an aircraft for revenue, for it to be chartered, it needs to be on our operator certificate.

"It's only just come across on our certificate a week or so ago."

Mr Nikolovski also backed away from those comments yesterday, saying he must have been making reference to the CASA email from earlier in the afternoon, and indicated his belief Bendigo aircraft owners Dr Chris Richards and Andrew Hoare were also its plane's operators.  

A lawyer acting on behalf of Dr Richards and Mr Hoare cited yesterday the ongoing Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigation as the reason the men would not respond to Mr Nikolovski's comments.  

CASA also declined to comment while the investigation continued. 

Pilot Max Quartermain and four American tourists were killed when the Beechcraft Super King Air  collided with the Essendon DFO shopping complex moments after takeoff. 

The plane was en route to King Island when it plummeted from the sky.   

It was later revealed Mr Quartermain was already the subject of an ATSB investigation at the time of his death for a near-collision in Mount Hotham two years ago. 

A preliminary report from the ATSB on its investigation revealed a black box flight recorder was recovered from the wreckage but contained no audio of the crash.  

Examination of the planes’ engines found no evidence of “pre-impact failure”. 

However, parts of both engines were kept for further analysis.

About 100 emergency service workers responded to the disaster, which premier Daniel Andrews later called Victoria’s worst civil aviation disaster in the past three decades. 

Original article can be found here:  http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au



UPDATE 9.40am: The head of an aviation company seeking to distance itself from last month's DFO plane crash said on the day of the tragedy the destroyed aircraft had been registered with the company for “a week or so”. 

Fairfax Media is reporting the Australian Corporate Jet Centre CEO sent an email to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority at 1.27pm on February 21 saying the crashed plane had “nothing to do with our company” and that it would not be requiring the certificate. 

The company received an email from CASA confirming its ownership of the plane at 12.01pm. The email said the decision was actioned on February 16.  

Australian Corporate Jet Centre CEO Vas Nikolovski told the Bendigo Advertiser at approximately 1.19pm his company registered the plane “a week or so” ago. 

“My Jet is the owner, although it's on our certificate to charter and use for commercial purpose,” Mr Nikolovski said. 

“In order to be able to operate an aircraft for venue, for it to be chartered, it needs to be on air operator certificate.

“It's only just come across on our certificate a week or so ago.” 

Civil Aviation Safety Authority records show Australian Corporate Jet Centres became the registered operator of VH-ZCR on February 16, just five days before it went down.

EARLIER: The aviation company potentially facing a multimillion-dollar lawsuit over the Essendon DFO disaster was told three hours after the crash that the plane involved had been registered in its name.

As the wreckage smoldered at 12.01pm on February 21, and it was confirmed that five lives had been lost, Australian Corporate Jet Centres received an email from the aviation authority confirming it was the plane's registered operator.

The company's CEO replied at 1.27pm: "Unfortunately this aircraft was destroyed in an accident today which you may have seen in the media, the plane was flown by Max Quatermaine [sic] under his AOC – Corporate and Leisure Travel and had nothing to do with our company. Sad news all round but we won't be requiring the certificate."

With the threat of lawsuits and insurance payouts mounting over Victoria's worst aviation disaster in 30 years, the Essendon-based company has sought to have its registration overturned.

Australian Corporate Jet Centres claims it was not responsible for the plane due to an administrative bungle over a $65 application fee in December.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority records show Australian Corporate Jet Centres became the registered operator of VH-ZCR on February 16, just five days before it went down.

Emails published in a finding by the Commonwealth's Administrative Appeals Tribunal show the company did not find out its application to transfer registration had been approved until midday on February 21 – three hours after the crash at 8.58am.

"Your application was actioned ... it should be on its way in the mail," CASA wrote in the email sent at 12.01pm.

With the media spotlight intensifying and emergency services still on the scene, the company's CEO, Sam Iliades, replied to CASA telling it that the plane had gone down. The plane was being flown by pilot Max Quartermain under his air operator certificate, he wrote.

The company continues to maintain that position: "It was not our air operator's certificate, not our client, not our revenue, not our pilot," Australian Corporate Jet Centres said in a statement on Monday.

Fairfax Media understands just who was legally responsible for the flight is still being investigated.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has been sifting through the wreckage of the plane, trying to piece together what caused it to go down shortly after take-off.

A recent preliminary report found that both engines and propellers appeared to be in working order at the time of the flight and that there was no evidence of mechanical failure.

Australian Corporate Jet Centres recently applied to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to have the CASA registration decision overturned but the matter was dismissed due to a lack of jurisdiction.

The matter was taken to the tribunal after the company originally had its application to become the plane's operator cancelled in late December because incorrect credit card details were used to pay the $65 application fee.

According to emails published in the tribunal finding, the company was not informed its application had been cancelled.

On January 30 the company emailed the regulator to find out what the delay was, only to be told the transfer had not gone through.

A new application was submitted and approved just over two weeks later.

CASA updated its register on February 16, sending out a letter to Australian Corporate Jet Centres and the previous registered operator, MyJet Aviation, informing them of the change.

The letter also contained a reminder of the operator's obligations.

These included the display of nationality and registration marks, as well as responsibility for airworthiness and maintenance. 

When the letter hadn't arrived by February 20, Mr Iliades sent another email asking CASA about the "status of the registered operator application".

The response came a day later, when the plane had already crashed.

Any lawsuit could run into tens of millions of dollars, with the family of the passengers plus the hundreds of people who witnessed the crash all having a potential claim. At least three law firms have been retained, Fairfax understands.

"[The case] could generate a very large lawsuit for the entity that is found to be responsible under the law of negligence for the air crash by a court," Shine Lawyers aviation department manager Thomas Janson said.

Negligence is yet to be proved in the case, as investigators continue to work through the plane's wreckage. But if it could be proved, hundreds of bystanders who saw the flight go down might be able to claim for nervous shock, Mr Janson said.

Read more here:  http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au



 Max Quartermain

John Washburn

Pilot Max Quartermain, Russell Munsch, Glenn Garland and Greg De Haven.



Glenn Garland, Russell Munsch, Greg DeHaven and a fourth golfing partner (left) at Cape Kidnappers golf course in New Zealand.


Collision with terrain involving B200 King Air VH-ZCR at Essendon Airport, Victoria on February 21, 2017: http://www.atsb.gov.au

NTSB Identification: CEN17RA106
Accident occurred Monday, February 20, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia
Aircraft: RAYTHEON B200, registration:
Injuries: 5 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.


On February 20, 2017, at 2159 hours universal coordinated time (0859 hours Australian eastern daylight time on February 21, 2017), a Raytheon model B200 (King Air) airplane, Australian registration VH-ZCR, impacted a building and roadway shortly after takeoff from runway 17 (4,934 feet by 148 feet, asphalt) at Melbourne/Essendon Airport (YMEN), Victoria, Australia. A post-impact fire ensued. The pilot and four passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The intended destination was the King Island Airport (YKII), Currie, Tasmania, Australia.


The accident investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. This report is for informational purposes only and contains information released by or obtained from the government Australia.


Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:


Australian Transport Safety Bureau

PO Box 967
Civic Square ACT 2608
Tel: +61 2 6257 4150
Website: http://www.atsb.gov.au
Email: atsbinfo@atsb.gov.au

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