The Transport Accident Investigation Commission released a report on a plane crash that occurred on January 7, 2015. The plane crashed into Lake Taupo, New Zealand. Moments before the crash occurred, all the occupants inside the airplane exited the crash. According to the report, the results of the accident could have been fatal.
The plane was a Pacific Aerospace 750 XL and was owned by Skydive Taupo. Previously, on the day of the crash, it had completed three flights. On the fourth flight, 13 people were on board. Six skydiving trainers were preparing to tandem skydive with six passengers. The remaining passenger was the pilot.
According to the report, once the plane reached the altitude of 2,100 feet above the lake, the engine made a noise. The noise was loud in nature and the exhaust produced sparks—immediately after, the propeller stopped. Then the pilot shut the engine down and attempted to glide the plane. Meanwhile the pilot also made a mayday call on the plane’s radio.
One of the skydiving instructors told the pilot that he thought bailing out of the plane would be safer than attempting a landing. He shouted, “Get out!” Before exiting the plane, each skydiving instructor insured their students were correctly attached to them. One pair did not exit the aircraft before the pilot exited out of the plane, but the pilot did not see them.
The report stated, “By bailing out through the cockpit door before everyone else had left the airplane, the pilot risked a collision or entanglement with the last tandem pair who exited from the rear door. He also risked colliding with the tail of the plane because he did not wait until he was clear of the airplane to deploy his parachute.”
The report states that the crash could have “led to serious or fatal injuries.” The total bail out time took approximately 20 seconds, and everybody landed on dry land. Only two people out of the group suffered minor injuries.
The plane hit the water at an estimated speed of 150 miles per hour and was completely destroyed.
The report did conclude by stating the pilot had the required ratings and was competent, but his emergency procedure training could have been better. In addition, the report stated engine failure caused the crash. The failure occurred because of a crack in a compressor turbine blade.
After the accident, the owner and chief executive of Skydive Taupo, Roy Clements, commented on the incident. He said it was important to remember the situation was severely stressful for the pilot, and he believes the pilot did the best that he could.
“He genuinely believed that when he left the plane that everybody else had already exited it,” Clements said. “To this day I’m still really proud of the way that the guys dealt with the situation, and I think it’s a credit to them, and their skill has prevented us dealing with a coronial inquest.”
The pilot was apparently shaken up after the incident. Clements said he still believes the pilot is flying but that the pilot moved away from Taupo after the accident.