Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
06 Dec 2011
For further information contact:
Senior Communications Adviser, Emma Peel
Tel: 04 560 9646, or 027 272 3545
Microlight pilot convicted
Microlight pilot Edward John Craig was convicted and sentenced in the Timaru District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to two charges.
Mr Craig admitted charges of careless operation, and of operating without the necessary aviation documents after flying a microlight at very low level with a passenger on board without a microlight pilot certificate.
The flight took place on 20 February 2011, and Mr Craig’s pilot certificate had expired in April 2009. Witnesses saw the aircraft flying so low behind terrain in the Pareora area, they feared it may have crashed, and called police. A search and rescue operation was launched needlessly. One witness estimated the aircraft was as low as 18 feet above the beach, and said there were people in the vicinity at the time.
Mr Craig was sentenced to 100 hours of community work, and has been disqualified from flying for two months.
CAA Manager Enforcement Rob Scriven says Mr Craig had put the public on the beach, his passenger and himself at unacceptable risk.
“Aircraft should not descend below 500 feet in areas such as the beach. When flying at heights as low as 18 feet, Mr Craig would not have had time to take avoiding action had a fault with the aircraft occurred.
“Similarly, the fact that Mr Craig’s pilot certificate had not been renewed means his hands-on flying skills had not been thoroughly checked every two years, as they should have been.”
Microlight pilots are not required to hold licences issued under the Civil Aviation Rules. Microlight pilot certificates are issued by the Recreational Aircraft Association of New Zealand Inc under delegated authority of the Director of Civil Aviation.