Queenstown aviation firm mourns the loss of pilot

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Queenstown helicopter company Kershaw Aviation Group has launched an internal investigation into the death of a pilot in Indonesia at the weekend.

Auckland pilot Shri Rama Krishnan, 42, died along with two Indonesian passengers when a six-seater Squirrel went down in high altitude during a routine food supply trip on Saturday.

Kershaw Aviation Group boss Josh Kershaw says two members of the company are on their way to the mining town of Tembagapura to work with authorities as people try to establish the cause of the crash.

“We are still not in a position to comment on what may have happened, but will be working very closely in the coming weeks with air accident investigators to establish exactly that,” Kershaw says.

“Safety is our number-one priority and we will also be conducting a full internal investigation into this incident.”

Kershaw says his deepest condolences go out to Krishnan’s wife, family and friends.

“Shri has been working with us for the past 12 months and we are all devastated by the news,” he says in a statement.

“He was an extremely good, very well-respected and experienced pilot who will be sadly missed.”

Krishnan had logged 3100 flying hours.

The Squirrel left an airfield at Tembagapura at 8.12am on Saturday. It’s believed the chopper encountered bad weather and attempted to turn back before the control tower lost contact at 8.30am.

The wreckage was found in steep and difficult terrain on Sunday morning.

“This is a route he would have travelled many times and he had previous extensive experience in similar environments,” Kershaw says.

The Squirrel was suited for the environment and territory and was equipped with the latest technology including a tracking system, he says.

It also had a pilot oxygen system on board due to the high altitudes at which it worked.