R v Dale Emberton [2021] NZDC 12332

Published 16 June 2022

Sentencing — operated aircraft in manner causing unnecessary danger to any other person — commercial pilot — damaged aeroplane — Civil Aviation Act 1990. The defendant faced two charges, the more serious of which was operating an aircraft in a manner causing unnecessary danger to any other person. He was a commercial pilot who at the time of offending was taking a group of tourists on a charter flight. On one of the stops on the flight, the plane's propeller was damaged. The defendant failed to undertake a routine check of the plane, and so did not notice the damage at the time. When he subsequently did notice, he attempted to fix the damage himself, despite lacking the maintenance skills and qualifications required to do so. The plane was later grounded and the propeller deemed to be a write-off. The Court observed that the defendant had failed in his professional responsibilities to safely operate the plane and to ensure the safety of those on board. The defendant's culpability was at the higher end, and the offending required deterrence. In mitigation, the defendant was remorseful and had pleaded guilty. The final sentence was a fine of $5750, plus costs. Judgment Date: 18 June 2021