NZ air force outed for loading oxy cyclinders into Air NZ jet
After a three year cover up the New Zealand Air Force has been found to have lethal capabilities after all, by risking the lives of hundreds of passengers by loading oxygen cylinders into the under floor cargo hold of an Air NZ flight from Auckland to Vancouver in 2009.
The dangers posed by the shipment and the efforts to keep the truth from New Zealand’s air safety investigator as well as the public have ignited controversy as a breaking news story on the other side of the Tasman this afternoon.
On 11 May, 1996, a Valujet DC-9 crashed on fire into the Everglades swamps in Florida shortly after it took off from Miami, killing all 110 people on board after some of an illegal consignment of 100 oxygen canisters burst into flames and then quickly spread upwards into the jet’s cabin and cockpit, before it dived steeply in the swamps.
In that incident the carrier had outsourced cargo consignments to a contractor that mislabelled the cylinders as ‘expired’, even though they remained dangerous, and had no written safety rules for air cargo, an oversight for which the airline, which soon went out of business and then morphed into AirTran, was held responsible, with blame also apportioned to the contractor and the US Federal Aviation Agency itself.
It is difficult to understand how the NZ Air Force could have made this shipment. It either acted in total contempt for the well known regulations and the safety of the New Zealand public, or its operational conduct had deteriorated to a level where there was no understanding of the risks of oxygen cylinders, which are normally labelled in large letters and symbols as being hazardous.