Planes given the all clear

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Twenty-one flightseeing planes, including 10 in the Queenstown area, have been given the all clear to fly after being temporarily grounded last week.

The GA8 Airvans – four operated by Glenorchy Air, three by Milford Sound Flights and three by True South Flights – were the same type as the plane involved in a skydiving operation which crashed in Sweden recently, killing all nine onboard.

New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority grounded the country’s 21 Airvans last Saturday as a precautionary measure until more was found out about the cause of the accident.

In a statement released today, Civil Aviation director Graeme Harris said he had lifted the suspension.

”Based on the limited information available immediately after the accident, the 21 GA8 aircraft operating in New Zealand were grounded, as well as a number operating overseas. There were 63 aircraft grounded in Australia for the same reasons,” Mr Harris said.

The suspension was triggered by initial information from the investigation into the Swedish accident which showed the aircraft had broken up in flight, he said.

“We do not take these steps lightly. The flying public, operators and pilots of the affected aircraft need to be satisfied that these aircraft are now safe to fly.
They can now be assured that the initial concerns expressed following the accident in Sweden have been addressed.”

He had received further information that there was no evidence to indicate a potential unsafe condition and the GA8 aircraft type would now be safely allowed to return to normal operations.

“Our Australian counterpart, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority has an airworthiness engineer in Sweden, observing the accident investigation and feedback from this work has been beneficial.

“We will continue to monitor the investigation into the GA8 accident and will take appropriate action should any related safety issues become apparent in the future.”

In a statement, Glenorchy Air said it had ”always maintained confidence in the safety of the GA8 and is pleased that no evidence was found to justify its continued grounding”.