Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Penny-pinching costs lives

Today's other appalling news: a leaked Defence Force report blames the 2010 Anzac Day helicopter crash on penny-pinching:

Three airmen killed in an Anzac Day helicopter crash were on a one-hour flight in pre-dawn darkness partly because it was considered too expensive to accommodate them in a hotel the previous night, says a leaked report.

The doomed flight on the morning of April 25, 2010, would not have taken place if the crew had flown to Wellington, for dawn services, the day before.

Instead, the air force Iroquois helicopter, one of three flying in formation, took off from Manawatu early on Anzac Day, with the crew using night vision goggles - something for which they were later found to have been inadequately trained.

The helicopter crashed at 5.49am, 36 minutes into the flight, killing three men and seriously injuring another.

The air force's internal accident analysis report says: "The need to minimise accommodation costs incurred by 3 Squadron due to pressure on the accommodation budget was recognised and contributed to the ... decision (not to fly the day before)."

The Defence Force uses the Amora Hotel in Wellington, which last night had rooms available for $149 each.

Twelve helicopter crew, two per room - NZDF killed three people and crippled another to save a mere $900. Great job there guys. So at that rate, we could get the NZDF brass to kill their entire command for less than a thousandth of their budget.

But it gets worse. Inadequate equipment, untrained crew, no instruction manuals. And the problems were systematic across the entire RNZAF, to the extent that it was unable to "adequately and reliably ensure safe and effective military air operations". And then there's this:
The report found knowledge of problems went to the top of the command chain.

The Chief of Air Force at the time of the accident, Air Vice-Marshal Graham Lintott, was last year promoted to be New Zealand's defence attache in Washington.

So much for accountability.