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Parliament

Minister clarifies flight clearance for ill-fated Helicopter

September 5, 2019 12:50 pm
Rescue team during the search of Robinson R44 Helicopter that crashed last month in Natewa Bay.

Minister for Defence Inia Seruiratu has clarified that the Robinson R44 Helicopter was given clearance on its flight plan despite its departure in the late afternoon.

R44 Helicopter crashed last month in Natewa Bay.

Seruiratu told Parliament that a new manual was launched in April that lays out the processes for any search and rescue operation in Fiji.

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The manual is in line with international best practices and has in place numerous safety features to ensure an effective and safe rescue.

Among the measures is the inclusion that operations begin at first light and end at last light.

The Helicopter was carrying out a medivac operation at the time from Naitauba Island to Labasa Hospital when it crashed, claiming three lives.

“Unfortunately there was a mishap, but let me just say that at this stage that it’s still under investigation. I sought guidance from the authorities this morning and all that they mentioned to me that all I can mention before this August House is that we have a government-appointed Accident Investigator, Mr. Andrew McGregor who is fully into the investigations and there are things that probably will be highlighted in his report and we’ll leave it at that.”

Seruiratu was responding to a supplementary question from Opposition MP Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu on why the flight was cleared despite it being late afternoon and close to nightfall when it departed Naitauba Island.

The crash claimed the lives of the Pilot – Gilbert Parker and his passengers, Mother of two, Taraivosa Moceisuva and her two-year toddler, Epeli Jeremiah Kalougata.

 

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