INDEPENDENT NEWS

Pacific Aerospace Plane Lost En-Route To US

Published: Mon 29 Dec 2003 11:48 AM
To News Editors
Statement from Brian Hare
Chairman and managing director of Pacific Aerospace
Quotes are attributed to Brian Hare:
1. The loss of pilot Kelvin Stark and the new PAC 750XL aircraft on a delivery flight to the United States has been devastating.
2. Our thoughts and sympathy is with Kelvin¹s wife April and family members. I have been in contact with April in Tauranga offering what support I can give her at this terrible time.
3. I understand this is the first loss of life of a pilot in Pacific Aerospace Corporation¹s 50-year history.
4. Since I have owned the company from 1995, Kelvin had successfully flown 30 aircraft on delivery flights for PAC without incident.
5. He had already flown the PAC 750XL prototype to the United States and return in October without experiencing any problems.
6. I was made aware that Kelvin was in difficulty when I received a phone call about 3.30am on Saturday from Phillip Esdaile, one of the co-owners of our North American distributors, Utility Aircraft Corporation, of Woodlands, Sacramento.
7. I maintained telephone contact with Mr Esdaile.
8. The aircraft was owned by Utility Aircraft Corporation and was fully insured. Kelvin was contracted to Utility Aircraft Corporation to deliver the aircraft.
9. Kelvin was in radio communication with the US Coastguard and reported that he was running low on fuel about 400 nautical milers from the mainland.
10. The PAC 750XL carries 20 hours of fuel.
10. Kelvin was experiencing 17 to 20 knot tail winds, which he factored to take 15 hours to fly from Hilo in the Hawaiian Island group to the US mainland.
11. At 13 hours, Kelvin reported he was low on fuel.
12. It was clear that at this stage the aircraft was down to just minutes of fuel.
13. The Coastguard recommended to Kelvin that he adopt a powered flight technique and to fly the aircraft on to the water which would give a greater degree of control.
14. A New Zealand crash investigator, Alistair Buckingham, has been named by New Zealand Civil Aviation to investigate the crash.
15. The reason for the New Zealand investigation is that the crash occurred in international waters and the PAC 750XL was a New Zealand registered aircraft.
16. Buckingham is flying to the United States to check on the fuel uplift and three refuelling stops. Refuelling took place at Pago Pago in American Samoa, Christmas Island, and then finally Hilo in the Hawaiian group and the closest port to the American mainland.
17. The evidence to date suggests that the aircraft experienced no mechanical failure but ran out of fuel.
18. Two other PAC 750XLs are currently owned and flying in New Zealand at Taupo.
19. There is no reason to recall the two aircraft because mechanical failure was not the cause of the tragedy
20. Senior company executives of PAC are still trying to contact all staff about the tragedy. But this has been difficult as the factory closed on December 19 and will not re-open until January 12.
21. I do not plan to fly to the United States at this stage as the investigation is being undertaken by NZ civil aviation. Kelvin¹s body remains inside the aircraft in deep water and recovery is unlikely.
ENDS

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