Monday, June 26, 2017

Helicopter crash pilot Rick Lucas loses license

MBB BK 117-A3, ZK-IED,  Heliforce

Pilot Rick Lucas, whose helicopter crashed in Porirua harbour, is grounded after having his license taken away.  

The Civil Aviation Authority would not confirm whether the decision happened after the May 2nd crash north of Wellington.

However, an Official Information Act request confirms Lucas's commercial pilot's license is "not current".

On Monday Lucas said his lack of license was due to having no medical certificate, and was nothing to do with the accident on May 2nd.

Lucas is also facing a charge of careless flying related to earlier incidents in the Wellington region.

He is due in Wellington District Court, charged with operating an aircraft in a careless manner over Pukerua Bay and Wellington.

Lucas, whose Helipro company was put into receivership in 2014, owing an estimated $25 million to $30m, was flying for Heliforce on May 2 when he plunged into the harbour inlet while carrying power poles. 

He escaped unharmed from his twin-engine BK117 helicopter.

Crash witness Reuben Kunst said the helicopter was carrying telephone poles when the cable snapped and hit the tail rotor, spinning the chopper around.

At the time, Lucas said he closed the throttles and lowered the lever to try to stop the rotation.

"But it was still a significant impact, and I ended up under the water. I couldn't get the seatbelt off.

"[I] couldn't tell up from down until I saw some light and I was able to head towards the light and emerge in the cockpit, so I was pretty happy."

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission is investigating the incident, and its findings are expected by the end of next year. 

Heliforce director Dave Borlase would not comment on Monday.

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