Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
22 March 2012
For further information contact:
Senior Communications Adviser, Emma Peel
Tel: 04 560 9646, or 027 272 3545
Helicopter pilot sentenced, fined and disqualified
A private pilot who flew a helicopter over a lake with a passenger dangling from its skids has been sentenced to 80 hours of community work, fined $3700, and disqualified from flying for three months.
Antony Shane Metcalfe was sentenced in the Te Awamutu District Court yesterday. He pleaded guilty to two counts of operating an aircraft in a manner causing unnecessary danger, one count of operating an aircraft for hire or reward without holding a commercial pilot licence, and 10 counts of failing to maintain accurate records.
In January 2011 Mr Metcalfe had flown low level over a lake with a passenger dangling from the helicopter’s skids in an impromptu thrill ride. The helicopter had continued over the lake until it was about 60 feet in the air before descending slightly. The man then let go of the skids, fell into the lake and swam for shore. Mr Metcalfe then took the man for a second, similar ride.
The following month, Mr Metcalfe took passengers on scenic flights without holding a commercial pilot licence, and was later found to have been incorrectly logging flight times.
CAA General Manager Safety Information John Kay says the lake flights indicated a distinct lack of concern for the safety of the passenger, those in the vicinity and the aircraft itself.
“The helicopter was low level, over water, with a person hanging from a skid. If there had been an emergency, Mr Metcalfe would have had nowhere to go, and no option but to descend into the lake, potentially on top of that person.
“Although Mr Metcalfe demonstrated poor judgement, his subsequent remorse and early guilty plea is acknowledged.”