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Defence Force Flying Procedures Robust and Appropriate

Squadron Leader Grant Rhind receives a 'Green Endorsement' from the Chief of Air Force at the time, Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell, for professional airmanship landing a Boeing 757 in difficult weather conditions in October 2013.
Squadron Leader Grant Rhind receives a 'Green Endorsement' from the Chief of Air Force at the time, Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell, for professional airmanship landing a Boeing 757 in difficult weather conditions in October 2013.

29 January 2015

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) welcomes the findings of a Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) Report into the landing of a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Boeing 757 (B757) in difficult weather conditions in Antarctica in October 2013.

Recommendations including risk assessment for future flights and meteorological minima are consistent with the RNZAF’s own findings and have already been implemented.

“We support the findings of the TAIC report which have confirmed that our operating procedures for Antarctic flights are robust and appropriate, and has revalidated the decision-making process by the crew for this flight,” said Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Mike Yardley.

“The findings are consistent with the investigation we carried out and the changes we made, following the landing, as part of our normal flight safety procedures. We've engaged actively and openly with the TAIC as they carried out their independent investigation, and it is pleasing that both investigations confirm the quality of the training provided to our personnel.”

Air Force support to the Antarctic Programme dates back to October 1965 and around 650 flights to Antarctica have been conducted by the Air Force since that time.

Air Vice-Marshal Yardley said, "Robust pre-season training is conducted for all RNZAF personnel involved in Antarctic operations, and the TAIC report shows that when the crew of the aircraft encountered rapidly deteriorating weather conditions, they followed the correct steps for a below meteorological minima landing, demonstrating considerable skill and professional airmanship appropriate to the situation.

“In particular, we’ve recognised aircraft captain Squadron Leader Grant Rhind with a ‘Green Endorsement’ which recognises his sound decisions based upon the information available, his adherence to Defence Force Orders and Civil Aviation Authority regulations regarding actions to deal with situations of this type, and his skill and leadership on the day.

“The report confirms that the preparation and training given to Defence Force pilots and crews is world class, and that they are prepared for the situations that can arise in flight,” said Air Vice-Marshal Yardley.
The current Antarctic Programme season commenced in November 2014 and runs through to February 2015. The NZDF is providing 220 personnel including an operational light engineering team, personnel to offload the supply ship, drivers, fuel assistants, logistics staff and aircraft maintainers working with the US Air National Guard.

ENDS

For further information, contact Defence Communications Group on 021 487 980

Background information:
OPERATION ANTARCTICA comprises a range of annual NZDF commitments, including air transport, logistical support to the NZ Antarctic Programme (NZAP) and the bulk of the NZ contribution to the NZ/US logistics pool. NZDF support is co-ordinated through collaboration with Antarctica NZ and its partner nations in the Ross Sea region by the provision of operational air assets and land based support in the form of specialist personnel skills and capabilities.

Each year the Air Force undertakes approximately eleven flights, and the NZDF provides an operational light engineering team, operational personnel to offload the supply ship, and drivers, fuel assistants, logistics staff and aircraft maintainers working with the US Air National Guard.

Robust pre-season training is conducted for all RNZAF personnel involved in Antarctic operations. This includes aircraft currency requirements for Antarctic flights, simulator training, practice using internally generated approaches, an extensive lecture programme covering Antarctic operating procedures and weather, a review of previous season lessons, and polar flight planning.

The Antarctic environment is extremely harsh and subject to complex and changeable weather conditions. Over the last fifty years of Antarctic operations, risk has been able to be reduced through improved aircraft technologies, the introduction of Global Positioning System navigation equipment, satellite communications, computerised weather modelling, and more robust standard operating procedures and regulations. However, the risk of changing weather conditions on the continent isn’t something that can be eliminated entirely.

An RNZAF investigation found that the crew displayed considerable skill in bringing the incident to a successful conclusion with no injury or damage to equipment. The flight of 7 October 2013 was conducted in accordance with all NZ Defence Force orders and instructions. The crew made sound decisions based upon the information available and met the criteria in Defence Force Orders and Civil Aviation Authority regulations regarding actions to deal with situations of this type.


 

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