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Erebus 25 years on

Old 27th Nov 2004, 17:40
  #21 (permalink)  
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Thank you for a most informed comment on the case. IMHO, Justice Mahon displayed an extraordinary degree of intelligence (for the legal profession) in identifying not only the cause of the disaster but the attempt by ANZ to "cover-up."

The fact that the homes of both pilots were broken into during preparation of the Royal Commission remains shameful. So far as I am led to believe, Justice Mahon's appeal to the Privy Council was dis-allowed on legal technicalities only.

Is it also true, that the judiciary of the Appeals Court in NZ that ruled against Justice Mahon's findings included members who had vested interested in Air NZ? That is important! (Ruling 5-3??)
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Old 27th Nov 2004, 20:56
  #22 (permalink)  
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Silberfuchs you old fox I totally agree..

In the last 25 years we have been given the James Reason "Swiss Cheese" model along with the practice and theory of systemc analysis and error chains etc that support Mahon and Vette's assertions and make Chippendales investgation appear absurd by todays standards. Chippendale was either unskilled and ignorant in accident investigation or was under direction from the Muldoon Government via ANZ. I am sure there are still a few out there that can't lie straight in bed knowing that they contributed, comitted purgery and covered up for ANZ, and thus Muldoon.
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Old 27th Nov 2004, 22:35
  #23 (permalink)  
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One last contribution, as stated earlier no one will change their views at this stage, but some obviously have not perused all that was published regarding this accident.

From Captain Derek Ellis who has been Concorde Capt, 747 Capt and as BALPA representative involved in many airline incidents and accidents. He covers many points but the following is very relevant.

"The effect of reading Gordon Vette's book, which is dedicated to supporting the views of the Commissioner, has in fact been to convince me that the findings of the New Zealand Office of Air Accidents Investigation are infinitely more realistic."

There would be few people more qualified and experienced than Capt Ellis in this field to offer an opinion.

Then we go to the findings of the Privy Council;
In their judgememnt, delivered on 20 Oct 1983, the five Law Lords of the Privy Council dismissed the commissioners appeal and uphel the decision of the Court of Appeal decision,which set aside the costs order against the airline, on the grounds that Mahon had committed clear breaches of natural justice. They demolished his case item by item, including Exhibit 164 which they said could not "be understood by any experienced pilot to be intended to be used for the purposes of navigation", and went even further, saying there was no clear proof on which to base a finding that a plan of deception, led by the company's chief executive, had ever existed.

And that is what has been found by probably one of the most experienced Pilot's in the world, and by the top British legal court.

Can anyone with views to the contrary match these qualifications and experience?? or have been supplied with more information on which to base their views?

Old 28th Nov 2004, 01:35
  #24 (permalink)  
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Macarthur Job's "Air Disaster" series deals with this accident and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to find out more.

In it, there is a sequence of photos shot from a RNZAF Iroquois which was carrying Justice Mahon as they retraced the flight path of the DC-10. By some uncanny quirk, a sector whiteout formed just as the chopper approached Erebus, completely obscuring the mountain and providing an extraodinary illustration of the phenomena.

It is quite easy to see from the photos how the crew thought they were flying in VMC conditions with unlimited visibility.

25 years on, I am not sure if the blame game is appropriate. Maybe the educational lessons for us all are a more valid aspect to take on.
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Old 28th Nov 2004, 08:12
  #25 (permalink)  
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To clarify sector whiteout, the following is from an aviation safety newsletter:-

Whiteout is a snow related phenomenon that can prove exceedingly serious. There are two types of whiteout: one caused by blowing snow, the other by lack of definition and texture. Both can cause loss of orientation.

Blowing Snow
This phenomenon usually occurs on or close to the ground in otherwise good weather, when snow on the ground gets blown either by the wind or by the propeller or engine blast. Suddenly, you find yourself in IFR conditions, unable to see very much, but usually in a VFR frame of mind. The sudden and unexpected transition can catch you unaware. Helicopter pilots have to be particularly careful about the blowing snow phenomenon.

Sector Whiteout
The second type, known as sector whiteout, is much more insidious than the first, because it can occur in VFR weather with no blowing snow. Sector whiteout happens under a low to medium overcast in snow-covered areas with featureless terrain. When the sun is in a certain position, its rays are reflected back and forth between the surface and the overcast and cause all texture on the ground to disappear, with no discernible distinction between the ground and the clouds. Because our minds are programmed to observe a line between ground and sky, any slight shadow can cause us to believe it is the horizon.

This type of whiteout was one of the major contributing causes of the accident where a DC-10 flew straight into Mount Erebus in the Antarctic though visibility was 50 miles. The particular cloud that day, combined with the position of the sun, caused the mountain slopes to merge visually with the overcast. The crew, having no visual cues from the ground, did not realize the terrain was rising.

btw, prospector, I don`t see the relevance of Derek Ellis` experience as a Concorde pilot to this subject
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Old 28th Nov 2004, 09:47
  #26 (permalink)  
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Kaptin M,
I quite believe that you could not see the relevance, probably/possibily because you only use one eye.

Old 28th Nov 2004, 17:33
  #27 (permalink)  
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Mon "Dominion Post"

SNOW SORROW: Buried for years under snow, a section of the fuselage of the DC10 that crashed into Mt Erebus has re-emerged just as New Zealand marks the 25th anniversary of the tragedy.


Remnants of the crashed DC10 on Mt Erebus have emerged from the Antarctic snow and ice as New Zealand remembers its worst peacetime tragedy.

A party that flew to the crash site for a 25th anniversary memorial service yesterday morning was stunned to see a section of the fuselage with the letter "a" and the Air New Zealand colours clearly visible.

A jet engine and orange cargo netting lay further up the slope.

The wreckage has not been seen for years but a light snow year and an unusually warm spring have combined to reveal a stark reminder of the tragic end of flight TE901, with the loss of all 257 people aboard.

On a clear, relatively mild day of

- 6 degrees celsius, those present could only ask again: How could this have happened?

The jet, flying on the wrong co-ordinates and in whiteout conditions, struck Erebus just 500 metres above sea level.

An enormous iceberg is now lodged below the crash site and the open sea is far on the horizon.

In a simple, poignant ceremony yesterday, water from Mt Cook/Aoraki, gifted by Ngai Tahu, was sprinkled at a memorial cross on a bare rocky rise one kilometre above the speck of wreckage.

The Very Rev Peter Beck, Dean of Christchurch, said the water was a symbol of blessing and of love.

He donned a white robe – an alb – and a purple stole over thermal survival clothing to conduct the short ceremony.

His mukluk snow boots peeped from beneath the robe as he prayed.

Three wreaths were laid in this place of unparalleled solitude and grandeur, where there is no sound but the wind.

Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff represented the Government; chairman Paul Hargreaves, Antarctica NZ, and Scott Base services manager Major Graeme Tod stood in for Air New Zealand.

As well as 200 New Zealanders, citizens of the United States, Japan, Britain, Australia, Canada, Switzerland and France died in the crash.

The party returned by helicopter from Erebus across the frozen sea ice and Ross Ice Shelf to Scott Base for a public ceremony that included Americans from nearby McMurdo Base. The half-hour remembrance included hymns and readings, a specially commissioned poem by Bill Manhire, read by Sir Edmund Hillary, and music composed by Christopher Cree Brown.

The ceremony was moved inside to the base mess after the skies clouded and the temperature dropped to - 12.

Dave Bresnahan, National Science Foundation representative at McMurdo both now and at the time of the crash, spoke movingly, his voice breaking, of the frustration of not knowing what had happened.

"We, just like those in New Zealand, waited and waited and waited. All afternoon.

"Shortly after midnight we got personnel to the site and learnt that no one survived the impact. I can't express how that felt.

"I clearly remember walking back from our control centre back to my quarters about 2 o'clock in the morning.

"It was dead quiet. No wind. Very calm. People all over McMurdo were hanging out the windows, looking out the doors, watching me walk across. Not a word was spoken. Everyone knew."

Sir Ed, who was due to be on the flight as commentator but was replaced by climbing and polar companion Peter Mulgrew, said he lost his best friend that day.

Mr Goff said time and nature had healed the scars on the mountain but those who lost loved ones would be grieving on the anniversary.

He told The Dominion Post it was quite possible the truth of what happened lay somewhere between the view of Chief Inspector of Air Accidents Ron Chippindale – that the pilots erred – and that of royal commissioner Justice Mahon, who blamed Air New Zealand's "predetermined plan of deception" and "orchestrated litany of lies".

"Most certainly the co-ordinates were wrongly programmed; the pilots were not advised of that.

"Other measures ought perhaps to have been taken by the crew at the time when they were uncertain of their position."

But the debate at this point was less important than simply to remember the tragedy and the lives lost.

"Our hearts go out not only to those who had friends who were passengers but to the families of the crew, who have suffered a great deal."

At 11.49am (Antarctic time) – the moment of impact – people moved outside Scott Base and stood, heads bowed, in a bitter wind before the New Zealand flag flying at half mast.

In Auckland, about 1000 people, including Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright, attended a service at Holy Trinity Cathedral, the main New Zealand commemoration.

Dame Silvia said it seemed everyone in New Zealand knew of someone who was on the flight.

Bottles of water from snow scooped from Mt Erebus were brought to New Zealand for sprinkling at services yesterday at all seven Anglican cathedrals.

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Old 28th Nov 2004, 22:29
  #28 (permalink)  
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It may be interesting to see what is visible in Jan 2006 !!!

Just so so so sad that we all learnt such lessons at such huge cost.

There is no point in arguing who is right. No one was, totally, and never will be.
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Old 28th Nov 2004, 23:04
  #29 (permalink)  
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Did anyone ever see the real documentary that was made after the Erebus accident? There was a 'docu-drama' filmed with actors playing the characters roles which has been shown on TV a few times, but before that was made, I saw a documentary (4 corners - maybe) that showed actual video footage of the real people giving evidence in court in front of Justice Mahon.

When watching that documentary, (and I honestly have no agenda here) it seemed obvious to me, that many of the Air New Zealand personnel were lying on the witness stand. When Justice Mahon made the ‘orchestrated litany of lies’ statement, as a viewer I just ‘knew’ he was correct.
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Old 28th Nov 2004, 23:07
  #30 (permalink)  
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KM and others,

My understanding of the Sector whiteout phenomenon goes a little further than just the sun angle.

One form of this white out occurs during high sun angles and a layer of (higher) cloud.

Those wavelengths of light not filtered out during the light's passage through the cloud layer are able to be refelcted from the (white) ground almost in their entirety. (Normally only a percentage of light is reflected by the snow). The upshot of that is that sky and ground merge into one with obvious consequences.
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Old 29th Nov 2004, 00:45
  #31 (permalink)  
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Your comments re Ron Chippendale are far from the truth, it would really help if you did a bit of research on these people before printing such garbage. I have taken the following from "New Zealand tragedies,Aviation" compiled by John King.

Ron Chippendale was the first witness to take the stand when the hearing began in an Auckland office building on 7 July 1980.

But while Mahon praised his witness for being a model witness, composed, impertuble and sure of his position, he belittled the capabilities of both the Chief Inspector and his staff. None of them, he said had ever been jet pilots, etc etc

The commissioners assessment of his first witness ignored Chippendales considerable experience as a flight instructor and transport pilot in the RNZAF.He had been formally involved in military flight safety and accident investigation for several years before being seconded to similar duties in civil aviation, and his standing in the world community is such that as someone scrupulously fair and independant, he has been asked to help investigate some accidents of a particularly delicate political nature. (Recently, for instance, he was appointed to the five strong United Nations team to investigate the loss of the Korean Airlines Boeing 747 airliner, Flight KAL007, shot down by a Soviet fighter near the Island of Sakhalin in 1983.)

Credentials far from the garbage you have printed.

Old 29th Nov 2004, 01:05
  #32 (permalink)  
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At the 2004 meeting of The International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI) held on the Gold Coast of Australia, Ron Chippendale was the recipient of the coveted Lederer Award. The award is conferred by ISASI to outstanding lifetime contributions in the field of aircraft accident investigation and prevention.

ISASI noted that one of Chippendale's most illustrious investigations was the 1979 crash of the ANZ DC10. "As Investigator in Charge of the accident his work on that case has been described as nothing short of brilliant, gaining international attention and respect. With a very small team, he managed an investigation that is said to be New Zealand's equivalent of TWA800. The investigation was conducted in a very difficult environment, both politically and culturally. Political pressures challenged his findings, but he survived, steadfastly expressing himself and standing by his principles on behalf of safety".
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Old 29th Nov 2004, 06:16
  #33 (permalink)  
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Sector whiteout (as opposed to whiteout caused by increasing intensity of snow fall, and corresponding visibility to whiteout conditions) is probably something many of you may have experienced, but may not have realised it at the time eg. driving on a cloudy/misty day (or night) and ascending a hill or mountain - moreso is the effect noticeable ...or less obvious, if the ground is snow/sand covered.
Several years ago, driving to Mt Mackinley outside Anchorage, we in the car experienced this phenomenom - the horizon appeared slightly obscured and (slightly) indistinct, but nonetheless there, with the road disappearing hazily into it, and as we were still able to see the flat, snow covered fields on either side it appeared that we would continue our journey under the overcast.
As the car continued its ascent, it was obvious that we were slowly entering into the base of the cloud, and visibility dramatically reducing.

It appears to me, prospector, that your ONLY knowledge of this accident wrt airline and flying operations, has been gained through books, and is thus extremely limited.
You appear to me, to be devoid of any ACTUAL commercial, operational flying experience, and the ability of crews to SAFELY carry out a visual descent, without completing a full instrument approach.

Capt Collins would have been quite "legal" in descending to the enroute MEA, or the MSA, and then continuing further down if visual contact with the terrain had been made.
From the reports I have read, I believe that that was indeed the case, however, due to the undulating, featureless nature of the Antarctic terrain, a positive "fix" would have been difficult to confirm.

But making it IMPOSSIBLE, was the fact that the final co-ordinates had been changed, and the position of the aircraft was not where the crew were expecting it to be, from the briefings they had received.

Your half-smart, 1-line quip from an earlier post still leaves my question of why Derek`s Concorde experience is relevant, unanswered (yes, I know the gentleman - I flew with him in SQ (747).....and Ian Gemmel during his time at Ansett New Zealand[737]).
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Old 29th Nov 2004, 07:51
  #34 (permalink)  
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Ron Chippendale may have great credentials and produced a magnificent report, but I think that he got it wrong
The probable cause of the accident was the decision of the captain to continue the flight at low level towards an area of poor surface and horizon definition when the crew were not certain of their position, and the subsequent inability to detect the rising terrain which intercepted the aircraft’s flight path.
Captain's decision? Pilot error? Pigs a*se!

It seems pretty obvious to me after reading the reports, as you so kindly instruct us to do, that the crew knew EXACTLY where they were – they were flying down the middle of McMurdo sound AS PLANNED because
a) They were ON TRACK according to their INS and
b) they were MAINTAINING VMC and could see the cliffs of the shoreline in the distance on either side and the broad flat expanse of snow and ice in front of them.
c) CVR: “Where is Erebus in relation to us at the moment?” “Left, about 20 or 25 miles…about 11 o’clock.”

However, some six hours before departure the coordinates of the destination waypoint were changed by ANZ navigation section and
MCMDO MCMURDO 7753.0S16448.0E 188.9 (the track) became
MCMDO MCMURDO 7752.7S16658.0E 188.5
THE CREW WERE NOT INFORMED OF THIS CHANGE and this was fed into the nav system. Chippendale did not seem to think this was significant. !

So, in actual fact, the crew were 27 miles to the east of where they (and McMurdo ATC) thought they were. What they took to be the cliffs of the shoreline of McMurdo sound were actually the cliffs of the shoreline of Lewis Bay. Mt Erebus was in front of them, but invisible in the sector whiteout. They reacted within 5 seconds of the GPWS going off, but could not outclimb the slope.

Prospector is a bit selective in his memory too
Gordon Vettes investigations attempted to show why they never saw Erebus, not why they were down at the altitude they were.
They were down at that altitude because it was legal. (Regulation 28 of the New Zealand Civil Aviation Regulations) The 6000/20 was a COMPANY sector safe altitude used in the application for route approval. It had not been complied with by any of the flights in the previous 2 years. Flying at low level had the tacit approval of the company and featured in many publications including their own magazine. The air traffic controllers at McMurdo had never been advised of this company requirement. They were well known to be happy to issue a clearance to descend in VMC to an aircraft tracking down the middle of McMurdo sound, as this was the inbound RNC route used by the military traffic and designed to keep clear of high terrain.
Bloodshot VFR at 1500ft, 260 kts, in an area that neither of the drivers had ever been to, and the CVR recording of uncertainty as to position, this was the fault of the company??
CVR recording of uncertainty as to position??. Crap. They had re-engaged NAV tracking after the descent orbits. They were certain of their position. The only problem was that they were wrong.

CVR extracts: (Air Disaster Vol2 - Macarthur Job)
00:45:00z “Now at 6000, descending to 2000. VMC
00:46:39z “Where is Erebus in relation to us at the moment?” “Left, about 20 or 25 miles…about 11 o’clock.”
00:47:43z “Might have to drop down to 1500 feet here, I think”
00:48:46z “Actually, these conditions don’t look very good at all.”
00:49:24z “I don’t like this.”
00:49:30z “We’re 26 miles north. We’ll have to climb out of this.
00:49:40z GPWS
00:49:49z “Go-around power please”
00:49:50z Impact

It seems very convenient for the airline that the document recovered from the wreckage referred to the company sector altitude which was not complied with. Strange that the briefing documents showing the original track down McMurdo sound were not recovered, although Capt Collins family knew he had plotted the track himself on an old school atlas for his own information. A company representative went to the home of F/O Cassin the day after the accident and recovered his briefing documents and they were (surprise!) never seen again. Later investigation just happened to reveal that all briefing charts showed a track down McMurdo Sound to the west of Mt. Erbus.
On January1 1980 the CEO Mr Davis denied reports that the destination coordinates had been changed and the crew not told (a lie) and asserted that when the aircraft left Auckland the correct coordinates had been in the computer system of the aircraft. (true, but…)

The Royal Commission report said
In my opinion… the single dominant and effective cause of the disaster was the mistake made by those airline officials who programmed the aircraft to fly directly at Mount Erebus and omitted to tell the aircrew. That mistake is directly attributable, not so much to the persons who made it, but to the incompetent administrative airline procedures, which made the mistake possible.
The part of Justice Mahon's report that will forever be remembered despite protestations of airline innocence will be
The palpably false sections of evidence which I heard could not have been the result of mistake, or faulty recollection. They originated, I am compelled to say, in a predetermined plan of deception. They were very clearly part of an attempt to conceal a series of disasterous administrative blunders and so, in regard to the particular items of evidence to which I have referred, I am forced reluctantly to say that I had to listen to an orchestrated litany of lies.
Justice Mahon’s report was later overturned, which was very nice for the government owned airline. But as they say, you can’t beat city hall. The New Zealand government must have been kicking itself for breaking a fundamental political rule: Never have an inquiry if you cannot determine the outcome in advance as it is so difficult and embarrassing to have to get things reversed.
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Old 29th Nov 2004, 07:55
  #35 (permalink)  
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Kaptin M,
We have been down this road before, your assumptions as usual are pathetic, by the look of your photo in the Hanmer Springs thread I would have had my first 5000 hours up before you got out of short pants.

However I will try once more, you will no doubt be aware that the RNZAF and the USAF require, from memory, some twenty hours of flight in Antarctic conditions before being let loose as P1. The Air NZ captains did not have the benefit of this training, that is why the descent restrictions were so restrictive.
There was never any requirement for the flight to ever contemplate landing on the ice, therefor, if the flight was not taken below 6000ft there would be no problem with whiteout. The Company standing order for descent is as already posted, you will note that descent from MSA, FL160, which was derived from the height of Mt Erebus, plus 2000ft buffer, had to meet the required conditions to even go to 6,000ft. 6000ft was the minimum descent altitude approved by NZCAA for these flights.

If this descent had of been Safely carried out, and it would have been if it was carried out in the manner approved by both the company and the NZCAA and as was known to the crew as a mandatory requirement, then this discussion would not be taking place.

The MSA was calculated using the height of Erebus as the first flights were in fact routed directly over this mountain.

Perhaps if you were to take the time to read the post by WITCH you may appreciate the standing of Mr Chippendale in the arena of aircraft accident investigation, and the weight his peers have put on his findings on this accident.

Capt Ellis, his qualifications were mentioned to show those who do not know him, that he had risen to the top of his profession, and that his views would therefor carry considerable weight.

Perhaps seeing that you obviously disagree with these highly qualified and experienced people you will post your pedigree so we can all judge who would have the most educated viewpoint??????

Desert Dingo,
You got it in one,
"The only problem was that they were wrong"


Last edited by prospector; 29th Nov 2004 at 09:35.
Old 29th Nov 2004, 10:21
  #36 (permalink)  
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Attaboy Prospector... Keep trying. You have almost got it.
Desert Dingo,
You got it in one,
"The only problem was that they were wrong"
And they were wrong because ......??
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Old 29th Nov 2004, 14:27
  #37 (permalink)  
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A sad day indeed.

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Old 29th Nov 2004, 14:55
  #38 (permalink)  
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The debate about Chippendale / Mahon / The Privvy Council Appeal / Morris has been going on for 25 years - you will not resolve it on this thread. Nobody is probably going to definitively decide it.

Anyway wasn't the point of this thread to just agree that whatever happened, and whoever was responsible and with whatever proportion, the event was an absolute tragedy - especially to a country of it's size, and one that was very close knit?

Family and friends of mine are often surprised at how, like other avaition people, I can dispassionately look at accident reports and photographs and seek information out of them about what went wrong and why. But when I see the photos of Erebus, I still get a shiver up my spine - it is the difference of association I guess, remember what an absolute tragedy it was for NZ and the effect on the psyche of the whole country at the time. It sounds melodramatic, but anyone who lived there at the time I am sure will attest to the enormity of it at the time.

My father worked for the company in flight ops and was working at Mangere that night - we watched the newsreader on NZTV (Dougal Stevenson was it?) reading the fateful newsflash. Living in the western hills of Auckland overlooking the Manakau we were surrounded by ANZ families and it was a tough couple of months leading up to Christmas - as they say everybody in NZ knew someone connected to Erebus - but around our neck of the woods everybody seemed to know a few.

My fathers first story of the night after getting home was the embarassment of seeing the MD Davis stumbling down the escalators at the airport clearly drunk whilst relatives of the families looked on - it was not ANZ's finest hour with respect to PR. As I recall they had just started up their 'Nobody does it Better' advertising campaign, which was quickly ditched. The PR campaign got worse when the homes of the operating crew were broken in to and documents removed.

The only comfort I take from the whole tragedy is that for the occupants of ZK-NZP the end looked mercifully swift.

The pain of the families , including around where I lived, was unneccessarily drawn out, and continues to be today, by stupid politics.

It is said that NZ grew up that day - more is the pity. It was to grow up further in the following couple of years witnessing the mire of political manipulation.

Last edited by Uncommon Sense; 29th Nov 2004 at 15:23.
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Old 29th Nov 2004, 20:01
  #39 (permalink)  
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Just because someone was a Concorde Captain with British Airways it doesn't mean that we have to grant them much authority on a New Zealand aircraft accident in Antarctica. I have no doubt that Chippendale was brilliant in the field or in the technical aspects of investigation, however history has shown us, that his final conclusion in this case, was somewhat pointed in one direction and failed to include or place importance on a lot of the subsequent findings of Mahon and Vette. Mahon was a legal person not predisposed by aviation culture and Vette was an Air New Zealand DC 10 Captain who knew the company and industry well. They both appear to have taken a more systemic approach when trying to establish the cause of this accident and not without personal and professional peril, offered conclusions, along with Mahons famous statement on what he found to be a cover up that rankled right through to the Prime Minister of the time. The arguement that Chippendale was a "Nuts and Bolts" man incapable of expanding into a bigger picture or that he had been influenced from above will probably rage for another 25 yrs. Would his report have had the same conclusion if the crew had survived? Prospector why can't you see that the crew contributed along with the company and also a whole host of other factors resulting in this accident? To assert that the pilot screwed up, end of story, no one else at fault, would indicate that you are most likely well over the hill or have some sort of other personal interest in the outcome.

Last edited by Pharknose; 29th Nov 2004 at 21:53.
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Old 29th Nov 2004, 21:17
  #40 (permalink)  
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No doubt you will have noted that in my original post I stated that people had made there minds up long ago as to the cause. One either went along with the findings of Mahon or Chippendale. Mahon was a judge who never had any aeronautical experience and whose findings were overturned by an appeal court and the Privy Council.

Chippendale was a very experienced pilot, and accident investigator, agreeing with his findings were a number of highly qualified aviation experienced people, including Capt Ellis.

What has not been mentioned thus far is the findings of Judge Harold H. Greene of the US District Court in Washington DC when an attempt was made to sue the United States Government for alledged failure of the US Navy air traffic controllers at McMurdo to warn flight TE901 that it was in danger.

Judge Greene said the operational crew of Flight TE901 acted unreasonably in several respects, including not plotting their actual position from the AINS and descending below 16000ft, contrary to both prudent airmanship and Air New Zealand policy, without first ascertaining what was there or following the other requirements for such descent.

"It is clearly established, when the pilot told Mac Centre that he wished to descend VMC he effectively informed the controllers that he could see where he was going, is so doing he took sole responsibility for separating the airplane from other aircraft and terrain'

There was more along the same lines but this court concluded that the disaster was the fault of both Air New Zealand and the flight crew.

This would appear to be the view of many, shared responsibility, but when the view of Mahon is quoted as being the definitive opinion, and it was the fault of the company only, then I feel the need, as quoted in my first post on this thread, to put forward the fact that there are many who believe he got it wrong.


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