Aviation AO-1999-004

Cessna 206 ZK-EKJ, collision with terrain, Te Anau,, 18 April 1999
Status: Closed
Legacy Inquiry Number: 
Occurrence Date: 
18 April 1999
Report Publication Date: 
3 December 1999
Jurisdiction: NZ
On Sunday 18 April 1999 at around 1538 hours, ZK-EKJ, a Cessna 206 floatplane on a round-trip scenic flight from Te Anau to overhead Milford Sound, struck the top of a vertical craggy mountain ridge. The pilot and 4 passengers died during the impact.

The pilot probably attempted to cross the ridge crest at low level and might have misjudged the height of the ridge top because of visual illusions or distraction. Some localised turbulence or downdraughts and the fast speed of the aircraft may have contributed to the accident. Had the pilot applied a safe ridge crossing technique, including maintaining a sufficient height margin above the ridge, the accident could have been avoided.

The pilot was reported to have carried out unnecessary low flying and crossing of ridge crests with minimal clearance on scenic flights, on a number of occasions over several years before the accident.

The operator did not, adequately supervise the pilot, independently investigate an allegation of the pilot low flying or establish a system to control or monitor the pilot's performance and compliance with safety requirements.

The pilot's reported acts of unnecessary low flying were not made known to the Civil Aviation Authority. The operator's organisational shortcomings that probably contributed to the accident were not identified by or made known to the safety authority.

Safety recommendations were made to the operator's chief executive and the Director of Civil Aviation to address safety issues identified during the investigation.
Related Safety Recommendation(s):
near Milford sound (-44.8265,168.0252) [may be approximate]