More Erebus


My earlier notes regarding the Mount Erebus Aircraft Crash, attracted a lot of comment. Some did not agree with even a little of what I had written. So with these notes, I have decided to expand a little on my comments. Some continue their campaign which they have stepped up to exonerate Capt Collins of any responsibility, for the Mount Erebus accident. And carry on their stubborn refusal to accept the findings of the chief of Air Accidents Ron Chippindale. These are not only individuals, but some have called on the assistance of so called professionals, Lawyers, and the odd Powerful Friend. They have been beavering away, working night and day, muddying the waters as to whom is responsible, and who is to blame. Their game plan is to shift the blame onto someone else, away from the flight crew. So lets blame the management, perhaps even the Navigation Dept. For that matter it does it even matter who, and if they were actually on board the aircraft of not.


However it’s important when dealing accidents that we never lose sight of the facts. For a start, Capt. Collins was flying a well found aircraft. It was operating in calm air, right up until the moment of the crash. Also, it was fully serviceable and under his control. It was almost as if it was a deliberate action, to fly the machine into the ground. With all the fudging by interested parties, that is being carried out, they all tend to ignore this fact. And don’t forget the Pilots Assn. they too will always be on the side of the pilots. All looking for the same thing. How to shift the blame away from the flight crew, and ultimately the pilot. In fact they will blame anyone that shows any sign of weakness, and able to be named culpable. Whenever lawyers enter into any equation, you should know that they never give up, and will keep on hammering away with their version of what’s the truth.


Are these people ever responsible for their actions? No matter what has happened somebody else is always to blame, and they will make it sound so convincing. But nothing will alter the fact that the Aircraft deliberately descended against posted instructions, as well in this case, a gross departure from good piloting technics. I might add, until it flew into the lower reaches of the Mountain, it was under perfect control. However descending when they couldn’t see the ground. At this time they didn’t even know exactly where they were. There were clues however, if you were able to pick up on them. The VHF signal from McMurdo sound was suddenly lost. This signal is. ‘Line of Sight’ so something was blocking the aircraft from receiving it. A mountain perhaps? Even the RADAR which the Aircraft was fitted with. This was meant to be used for the weather, but I knew pilots had used it for other purposes, such as detecting land masses. Much of my information came through Bob Pech an American senior pilot for National Airways Florida who actually flew Air NZ’s DC10’s in the ‘offseason’ when his company leased the aircraft.


In fact there is one group that no one seems to be speaking up for, and that’s the passengers and I now intend to do so. When you buy an Air Ticket today, there is an implied condition that you will fly in a well found aircraft. As well, looked after by a professional and fully trained flight crew. You don’t expect them to depart from good airmanship, and take unreasonable chances with your life, just so that you can get a better view. The way things have turned out, I don’t think in this case anyone is over concerned for the other two hundred and seventy people who were also on board. They had entrusted their welfare and as it turned out, placed their very lives into the hands of the pilot who was prepared to take chances, and whose judgment was faulty. Thank God this misplaced responsibility is rare, you don’t expect, or find maverick behaviour from these people very often.


Much has been made of the fact that the ‘way points’ had been altered. Altered or not, I’m surprised too that the flight crew were not working more closely with the navigation people, before departing for an area that has so many dangers, and is so unforgiving. Any prudent pilot should have made it part of his flight plan’s preparation, and actually had an briefing with the Navigation Department, to get some idea of what to expect, and exactly where they were headed. The flight crew would also need to know exactly what ‘Whiteout Phenomena’ is, and any other special action or care that should be taken on arrival to the polar region, for which they were totally unprepared and unfamiliar with.


After the report by Justice Mahon was tabled there was a clamour to grant him a Knighthood for this Erebus work. At this time Sir Geof Palmer was the minister of Justice, and as well the Deputy Prime Minister. He said then, he had no intention of granting Justice Mahon this honour. Even today he has no intention of changing this view. He further said, ‘Justice Mahon was a eminent New Zealander’, and ‘He did a lot of good work. But his Erebus report in his mind, was not one of them’.






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