By Samisoni Pareti
New Zealand aviation expert Andrew McGregor gets into Savusavu today to begin investigations into the disappearance of a helicopter near the coastal town in northern Fiji last Friday.
McGregor’s appointment as investigator in charge of the aviation accident was announced today by Fiji’s Department of Civil Aviation. He specialises in forensic engineering and air accident investigation, the department states.
His last investigation in Fiji was the crash last year also in northern Fiji of a Cessna 172R flown by a flight instructor with his pilot student as passenger. He identified inclement weather as a likely cause of the accident.
In last Friday’s accident, the helicopter identified as a Robinson R44 Raven II was on a mercy flight from Naitauba Island in northern Lau to Labasa when it went missing. With the sole pilot was a woman with her two year old sick child.
Search by emergency personnel assisted by police officers and local villagers found the body of the woman on the coastline of Natewa Bay. Debris believed to belong to the missing helicopter have also been recovered.
They are concentrating their search on the coastline between Korotasere and Vanuavou villagers.
“Debris and aircraft parts were quickly located based on the helicopter’s last known position,” a statement from the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji had said last Saturday in confirming the aerial accident. “Evidence found at the scene suggests that the helicopter had impacted the water at a relatively high speed and that there are no survivors.”
The passengers of the ill-fated flight are said to be the family of a man who works in Naitauba, a freehold island lying east of Vanuabalavu that belongs to a cult from the US, who are devotees of a man they referred to as Adi Da Samrashram.