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Gap in rules over airstrip stock clearing

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/09/2016

An investigation into a fatal plane crash in Central Otago has found it stalled while preparing to land, but also uncovered a gap in aviation rules about clearing stock from airstrips.

Pilot Ray Crow, 56, was killed and US tourists Sarah and Eric Hoffman hospitalised when Mr Crow's Piper Cherokee crashed near the Poolburn Reservoir on a scenic flight in August 2014.

On Thursday, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission released its report into the crash.

It said Mr Crow was preparing to land and was flying low over the airstrip to clear cattle away.

The aircraft stalled because of a combination of surrounding hills, a difficult northwesterly wind, Mr Crow's decision to turn downwind at low level and to increase his angle of banking at low speed.

Investigators ruled out pilot incapacitation or mechanical failure but also pointed out while the aircraft's operator believed stock clearing was permitted, there were no guidelines or training on it.

A recommendation has been passed on to the Civil Aviation Authority to decide whether stock clearing is a permitted activity and if so, provide clear guidance on how it should be done.

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