Queenstown flightseeing firm is back in air after crash

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A Queenstown flightseeing firm has resumed flying operations after last week’s crash, saying an initial investigation found no resulting safety issues.

Two pilots were badly injured when their Milford Sound Flights’ light plane crashed during a training flight last Friday.

Senior pilot Dave Cross, 64, of Cromwell, remains in a serious but stable condition in intensive care at Southland Hospital, Invercargill.

Dan Noonan, 40, of Queenstown, is now in a general ward in Dunedin and his condition is described as ‘comfortable’.

Milford Sound Flights chief executive Jeff Staniland says the company suspended flights during the weekend but resumed operations on Tuesday this week.

“Milford Sound Flights has conducted an initial investigation and concluded there are no resulting safety issues associated with the commercial operation of our aircraft fleet,” Staniland said in a statement yesterday after Mountain Scene inquiries.

“In accordance with aviation protocols the decision to resume flying has been jointly made by the company and its pilots.”

Staniland adds that the tourism firm has an excellent commercial flying safety record.

It will be carrying out a full investigation with assistance from its Queenstown-based parent companies Skyline Enterprises and Real Journeys, he says.

The Cessna light aircraft was found overturned on land in the Von Valley between Queenstown and Te Anau – about 5km south of Mt Nicholas.

Its emergency locator beacon had been activated.

Rescue crews from Southern Lakes Helicopters and paramedics arrived on the scene at about 10.45am.

Cross, who is one of Milford Sound Flights’ senior pilots and a training manager, is a longstanding employee of the company.