Report: All was well apart from weather

Crash site. Picture: Supplied


  •  The qualifications of the pilot in command (Iliesa Tawalo) and the student pilot (Merelesita Lutu): these were fully compliant to Fiji regulations.
  •  The medical conditions of Iliesa Tawalo and Merelesita Lutu: there was no evidence to suggest that their health was impaired.
  • The mechanical condition of the aircraft: the engine of the aircraft and its control systems were operating normally at the time of impact.
  • The operator of the aircraft, the Pacific Flying School had a valid Air Training Institute Certificate (ATIC) at the time of the accident.
  •  The weather for the first leg of the cross-country training flight between Nadi and Labasa complied with Visual Flight Rules in accordance with Fiji’s Air Navigation Regulations and the cross-country training flight plan.
  • When the pilots departed Labasa for the accident flight, it is likely that visibility and cloud cover complied with Visual Flight Rules in accordance with Fiji’s Air Navigation Regulations.
  • It is likely that after the aircraft departed Labasa, the weather across the mountains deteriorated rapidly, entrapping the aircraft and providing no escape route.

The final stages of flight were probably flown in poor visibility and in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) for which the pilots had received only limited training.

It is therefore unlikely that this stage of the flight was conducted in accordance with Visual Flight Rules that complied with Fiji’s Air Navigation Regulations.

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