CAA names Wanaka skydive death victim

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Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed it’s investigating a skydiving fatality in Wanaka yesterday (Thursday).

Contract skydiving photographer Antonino Arillotta – an Italian – died on impact when both his main and reserve parachutes did not open.

Arillotta, 38, hit the ground on a golf driving range opposite the entrance to Wanaka Airport.

CAA understands the operator Skydive Lake Wanaka has voluntarily suspended its operations.

“This is not required by the CAA, however it is a respectful action and also allows staff and locals time to come to terms with what has happened,” CAA corporate communications manager Mike Richards says.

“The operator is considered to be a very professional company.”

At least two CAA safety investigators will be in Wanaka conducting interviews for two days, Richards says.

Parachute gear and related equipment, and the camera used by Arillotta, will then be taken to Wellington for detailed examination and testing, Richards adds.

“The investigation into the cause of the accident is not being conducted to apportion blame.

“The CAA is interested in finding reasons for the accident so that lessons from this unfortunate incident can be applied to help prevent a repeat in the future.”

The Government’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission will not be investigating.

The fatality is the first in adventure aviation tourism since a new stringent regulations affecting the sector came into effect last November.