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Student pilot and instructor were not at fault when Cessna 172 crashed in Vanua Levu - AG

Student pilot and instructor were not at fault when Cessna 172 crashed in Vanua Levu - AG

By Dhanjay Deo
Friday 24/05/2019
Pacific Flying School Instructor Iliesa Tawalo and student pilot Merelesita Lutu and the wreckage of their Cessna 172 aircraft

Instructor Iliesa Tawalo and student pilot Merelesita Lutu of Pacific Flying School did not breach any regulations and were not at fault when the Cessna 172 aircraft crashed in very rugged terrain near Delaikoro Mountain in Vanua Levu last February.

Attorney General and Minister for Civil Aviation Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum revealed this in a press conference in the last hour adding that New Zealand‑based Air Accident Investigator Andrew McGregor has handed them the investigation report.

He says according to the investigation report, at the time of the aircraft’s departure from Labasa airport, it was likely that visibility and cloud coverage complied with Visual Flight Rules, in accordance with Fiji’s Air Navigation Regulations and the cross‑country training flight plan.

However, soon after departing Labasa, weather conditions and visibility across the mountains quickly worsened, thereby entrapping the aircraft without an escape route and causing it to impact steep mountainous terrain.


A Google Earth perspective view of the accident flight path and accident site provided by ADS-B data

Plane wreckage and bodies of the instructor Iliesa Tawalo and student pilot Merelesita Lutu were later found in Delaikoro, Vanua Levu.

Sayed Khaiyum says it cost them $200,000 to get the investigation done and obtain the report.

We will have more later today.

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