Fox Glacier Aviation Disaster “New Zealand Unsafe” – Updated

Considering a holiday to New Zealand. Watch this video first and then visit this Facebook Page


You may be forgiven for not remembering the tragic loss of life when a sky diving plane crashed on the day of the Christchurch earthquake, it probably got pushed out of the news where you are. Nine people died when an overloaded, converted crop dusting plane lost control over the Fox Glacier. For background read our blog Fox Glacier Plane Crash, Nine Dead Including Four Tourists (Sept 2010).

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission report into the disaster was released today watch Extended video: TAIC on plane crash and it wasn’t good news – not for the Civil Aviation Authority, nor Skydive NZ and certainly not for the people employed by them who were allegedly under the influence of drugs. The entire Adventure Tourism industry in New Zealand will be sucking in its breath over this.

Update: Hours later we learned that the pilot involved in the Carterton Ballooning tragedy in which 11 people died was also found to have cannabis in his system.

In a statement to the BBC, Prime Minister John Key said approximately 50 people had been killed in adventure tourism sector in the last 8 years.

From The NZ Herald

The report revealed the plane had been converted from a crop-duster to a skydiving plane only three months earlier by engineering company Super Air Limited.

It said the modification was “poorly managed” and the Civil Aviation Authority failed to detect discrepancies in documentation about the work.

Furthermore, the company operating the plane, Skydive NZ, had not completed weight and balance calculations before it entered service, meaning the plane was flown outside its loading limits every time it carried a full eight passengers.

The report also confirmed at least two of the skydive-masters had been taking controlled drugs and one had taken cannabis shortly before the flight. It called on the Government to introduce a rigorous drug and alcohol testing regime…

Now the Herald is running a story about the British father of one of the victims and his campaign to draw attention to New Zealand’s unsafe Adventure Tourism Industry, in the hope that he may shame the country into getting its act together:

The family of a British tourist killed when a skydiving plane crashed at Fox Glacier has launched an internet campaign claiming New Zealand is unsafe.

Chris Coker, whose 24-year-old son Bradley was one of nine people killed in New Zealand’s worst air disaster for 17 years, said his son’s death was “completely avoidable” and showed a lack of proper regulation and control…

And continuing in a course of action that is remarkably similar to that of Chris Jordan, father of another British tourist Emily Jordan whose death prompted a paper-pushing review and weak regulation of New Zealand’s adventure tourism industry…

“Mr Coker has written an emotional letter to Prime Minister John Keybegging for a review of aviation regulations, and launched a YouTube video and Facebook campaign critical of New Zealand safety standards.

Mr Coker told the Prime Minister that public and tourists in New Zealand were “not safe” and there was an overwhelming case for change in the way adventure sports are regulated.

Until action was taken, there was compelling evidence that young people should “think twice” before pursuing adventure activities in New Zealand…”
We say, don’t think twice. Don’t participate in Adventure sport activities in New Zealand. The deaths that make it into the news are just the tip of the iceberg.
Think of going somewhere where the safety standards are first world and better regulated. If you’re paying first world money for your experience,  demand a world class experience for your dollar. These activities aren’t cheap.
Go somewhere where adventure tourism operators have a real appreciation of the hazards, are less likely to be under the effects of illicit drugs and where the accident stats are a lot better.
Go somewhere that does not have the no blame ACC accident compensation culture that has evolved in New Zealand.
Elizabeth Coker, Bradley’s sister and a UK lawyer, added that it was “natural” to expect safety and legal standards in Commonwealth countries to match those of the UK and this was not the case.

“You cannot sue for negligence in New Zealand and there is no criminal offence of corporate manslaughter,” she wrote. “In our view, this has had the effect of lowering safety standards in New Zealand.

“There is no ultimate sanction, either financial or criminal, on companies who ignore their duty to protect the public.

“This accident report backs our view that the legal system in New Zealand is weighted entirely against victims of accidents, and indeed the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office website warns UK citizens of this in giving startling advice about travelling to New Zealand.” (all quotes from the NZHerald)

You may also be interested in

 Blogs tagged ‘Adventure Tourism deaths‘ and these posts:

Harness Failure Leaves Woman Dangling At Nevis Bungy Swing (May 2012)

Carterton Ballooning Tragedy, Urgent Checks Follow Air Worthiness Concerns (Feb 2012)

Thrillseekers Adventure Ltd Fined For Bungy Fall (May 2011)

Tom Donaldson Inquest – Coroners Says ‘Warn Tourists’ (Nov 2010)

Wellington Reverse Bungy Closed Amid Safety Fears (Dec 2010)

Tourists Seriously Injured In Bay Of Islands Boat Incidents (April 2011)

Alistair McWhannell Guilty Of Manslaughter In Swing Bridge Death (June 2010)

Fox Glacier Plane Crash, Nine Dead Including Four Tourists (Sept 2010)

Tourists Injured in Queenstown Jet Boat Crash, Another Died Swimming With Dolphins (Nov 2010)

Australian Tourist Seriously Injured By Dophin Boat (Dec 2010)

Tourists seriously injured in collision between Outward Bound cutter and a Dolphin Watch Ecotours (Feb 2011)