Sad news from Wanaka over the weekend where one of the Harris Mountain Heliski helicopters went down. According to reports, conditions were perfect when the pilot, instructor and five passengers were out on Mt. Alta. All on board were New Zealanders – one man died, the other six passengers have a range of injuries. Early reports are that five are serious but not life threatening.
A report out this morning says the helicopter, an Airbus Squirrel AS350 B2, clipped the mountain causing the accident. Debris from the crash were spread 1000m down the mountain with the tail section separating from the main body of the aircraft. There’s some raw footage from the scene taken by TVNZ below.
The New Zealand government introduced tighter safety regulations for heliski operators three years ago which have been being phased in – the final phase will be complete in November this year. After this time there will be an auditing and registration process for safety procedures.
But on a personal note, I’ve been out on the Harris helis and the guys couldn’t have been more safety conscious and professional. Everything was covered in the briefing at the start of the day and rules around what you could and couldn’t do while near the aircraft were strictly enforced.
Our thoughts are with the guys injured and the families affected. For more information, you can read the NZ Herald Report that came out a couple of hours ago here.