Marty Lloyd. PHOTO/FILE

Double fatal mid-air collision
Charges laid just before the deadline

ARTHUR HAWKES
arthur.hawkes@age.co.nz

Charges have been laid by the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand related to the double-fatality mid-air plane collision that occurred above Hood Aerodrome in June last year.

Mike Richards, the CAA’s manager media communications and complaints, confirmed on Monday to the Times-Age that charges had been filed against Marty Lloyd, owner of Sky Sports [NZ] Ltd, known as Skydive Wellington, and Sky Sports [NZ].

“On [June 15, 2020], CAA filed charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act [2015] against Sky Sports [NZ] Ltd as a PCBU [Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking] and Mr Lloyd as an officer/director of the PCBU in connection with a mid-air collision at Hood Aerodrome in June 2019, that resulted in two fatalities.”

A crowd-funding page has been set up to support Lloyd’s legal defence, after it was known that the CAA would be laying three charges. The crash occurred on June 16, 2019, and involved a Cessna 185 belonging to Skydive Wellington and a Wairarapa Aero Club plane.

The planes carried no passengers, but both pilots were killed in the crash – Joshua Christensen, 20, a pilot with Skydive Wellington, and Craig McBride of Wairarapa Aero Club, who was in his late 60s.

The page’s creator, Stuart Bean, said Lloyd needed “help to fund a defence against what we believe to be an unjust prosecution against a small aviation operator”.

Bean said the CAA’s Worksafe unit had taken a year, before announcing their intention to level charges after an investigation of the crash.

“One year later and only a few hours before the deadline to lay charges, the CAA’s Worksafe unit notified Marty by telephone that they intended to lay three charges in relation to the accident, two against Sky Sports [NZ] and one against Marty personally.”

Bean alleged Lloyd was not given any further information as to the specifics of the charges.

The whole process had left Lloyd “severely shocked and emotionally strained”, he having spent the last year recovering from the “emotional and psychological toll of the accident and subsequent CAA and Transport Accident Investigation Commission investigations”, Bean said.

Bean said Lloyd “simply cannot afford to defend himself against these charges”.