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Families blame helicopter for fatal crash

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 24/08/2016

The families of two men killed in a Queenstown helicopter crash say they wouldn't have died if they had been in a different aircraft.

Flight student James Patterson Gardner, 18, and instructor Steven Combe, 42, died after their Robinson R44 helicopter crashed during a training flight near Queenstown in Feburary 2015.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission on Thursday released a report into the crash, saying the helicopter broke up when its propeller hit the cabin, in what is called "mast bumping", although they could not find the definitive cause.

But in a joint statement, the families of the two men say the report highlights the risks of the Robinson R44 and its design is a significant issue authorities needed to address.

"We firmly believe that had Steve and James been in any other aircraft type the accident would not have occurred," they said.

The crash prompted authorities in both New Zealand and Australia to temporarily ground the model of helicopter over safety concerns.

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