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Inquest focuses on pilot's mental state

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/02/2017
Raglan Beach © EyesWideOpen/Getty Images Raglan Beach

A coroners inquest into the death of a husband and wife whose plane crashed off the coast of Raglan four years ago has heard evidence about the pilot's mental state ahead of the accident.

2degrees CEO Eric Hertz, 59, and wife Kathy Picone Hertz, 64 were killed when their twin-engine Beechcraft Baron plunged into the sea during Easter weekend in 2013.

Their bodies and the wreckage of the plane were recovered south of Gannet Island around ten days later following a major recovery effort by the New Zealand Navy.

CAA safety investigator Dan Foley told the court during the safety investigations inquiries were conducted into the pilot's medical status where it was revealed Eric Hertz was taking Duloxetine for generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) or major depressive disorder (MDD).

"It appears that the pilot did not disclose to the FAA or the CAA he had been diagnosed with or was taking medication for these conditions.

"Had Mr Hertz declared this neither organisation would have issued him with a medical certificate" Mr Foley said.

The Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand also found there were multiple contributing factors which caused the plane to lose speed and enter a spin it could ultimately not get out of just after midday on Saturday, March 30.

"With regards to the aircraft's departure from a controlled flight it's likely that the pilot lost situational awareness and became disorientated.

"This was most likely caused by the aircraft being operated in cloud and once it entered a spin the pilot could not have recovered from this situation and the crash was not survivable," Mr Foley said.

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