Chopper protest sparks probe

THE Federal aviation safety regulator is investigating helicopter joy flights at Primex in Casino after complaints were made about how the chopper was operated.

Gold Coast Heli Tours conducted flights for paying passengers over Casino last Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), which is responsible for regulating the safety of civil aviation across Australia, confirmed it was conducting a probe into complaints made on Friday.

It is understood they are linked to the way the helicopter was flown, although CASA would not confirm this.

“We have had some reports that the operations of the helicopter may not have been appropriate,” the CASA spokesman said.

“It is early stages (of the investigation) and we cannot speculate on whether there were breaches (of regulations) at this stage.

“We may look at this and decide there is not anything inappropriate.”

He said if there was enough evidence to suggest a breach had been committed, then a range of avenues were available, including counselling of pilots, or firmer action, such as an infringement notice or prosecution.

“But I am not going to speculate at this point,” he said.

CASA became aware of the complaints after members of the public reported concerns to police.

Primex Agricultural Field Day director Bruce Wright told The Northern Star he did not know much about the reports. Until he had seen something in writing he would consider it a rumour.

Gold Coast Heli Tours chief pilot and director Scott Menzies said he was unaware of the nature of the complaints.

“The comments came from a police officer who said a member of the public made a complaint,” he said.

“We have no idea what the complaint is about.

"The only thing we know is a complaint was made.

“Unfortunately, we cannot say any more about it.”

Mr Menzies said Gold Coast Heli Tours was one of “the safest operations around” and adhered to the highest of safety standards.

“We have never had an incident since we have been operating at Primex,” he said.

“The company has a 100% safety record.”

CASA is appealing to anyone who may have photographs or video of the helicopter operating in Casino to contact them.

The spokesman said it may assist in the investigation.

“We have had some reports that the operations of the helicopter may not have been appropriate.”



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