EREBUS INVESTIGATION. Comment on Darren Straker's letter.
In the 20-26 January issue of "Flight International", Mr. Straker makes some statements which needs some clarification.
The investigation which the late Ron Chippindale led was conducted by the "NZ Office of Air Accident Investigation". The Civil Aviation Division of the NZMOT did not conduct it. On the contrary; the CAD's pre-accident actions were subject to investigation by Mr. Chippindale. The Air Accidents Office, as we generally referred to it in converstion, was nominally under the MOT; but only for purely admin. purposes. That was the route by which it was funded.
When the accident happenned, I was working in the CAD Head Office under Maurice McGreal who is mentioned in the letter, and thereafter for a few years before returning to active flying. Later in the 1980s, I worked for Ron Chippindale up to the time the new TAIC replaced the old "Office". I knew Ron well, and find it almost laughable to imagine him being "captured", or coerced, or in any way influenced by any political pressure. The very idea is verging on the bizarre. I liked Ron, and we had many quite deep chats about ethics and such-like. But to some, he could seem somewhat austere; even cold. But a kinder man it would be hard to find.
With regard to Maurie McGreal, I still earbash him on a regular basis and am quite sure that when he held a senior position in the Flight Operations section of the old CAD; he was as straight as a die.
This is not the place to endlessly pursue why Jim Collins was led into the situation. He also was an honest aviator. I cannot say the same about some within the ANZ management...as we know.
But there are aspects which continue to puzzle me; as well as the usual "what-ifs" and "If-onlys".
If only the pilots had selected, and considered, INS modes which read the aircraft's actual longitude. Jim knew which meridian took them down the centre of the Sound and knew very well the meridians which intersected Mount Erebus;
If only the flight deck area had been cleared of all chattering non-crew prior to the descent;
If only they had elected to to make station-passage over the NDB at about 18,000 feet prior to doing the scenic thing;
If only they had become much more curious about the broken, and then lack, of VHF comms. Other than a total failure of all airborne and/or ground equipment, what else could it be? Other than "something" between they and the ground station!
If only, when the GPWS sounded, they had rammed the power levers full forward, pitched up to stickshaker speed and rolled left or right. Maybe they might have made it...the impact angle and forces would certainly have been very much less......
But enough for this posting methinks. Both Maurie and myself will welcome Mr. Straker's response.