West Coast helicopter operator fined after deaths of seven tourists in Fox Glacier

The owner of a West Coast Helicopter company has been fined for breaches of health and safety following a fatal crash in 2015 that killed seven people.

James Scott, the owner of Fox and Franz Heliservices was ordered by the Christchurch District Court to pay $64,000 for failing to take all practical steps to keep his employees and others safe.  

Despite the ruling, families of the victims are demanding better safety standards from tourism operators. 

All seven people on board the squirrel helicopter died when it crashed shortly after take off from a scenic lookout called The Chancellor, 2500m up the Fox Glacier. 

Nigel and Cynthia Charlton were visiting New Zealand on a dream holiday from Britain when they were killed in the crash. A family friend told the court she was horrified an accident like this could happen.

"We want changes of attitude to health and safety in the leisure industries in New Zealand and active monitoring, action and enforcement of legislation so that similar tragedies may be prevented from occurring in the future."

The brother of deceased pilot Mitch Cameron told the court he was impressed with Cameron's professionalism and how he wanted the tourists to love the glaciers as much as he did.

Scott, who has been working in the aviation industry for 30 years, was found to have breached safety standards in eight different areas.

These were in technical areas, as well as training, weight and balance, and supervision.

However Scott's lawyer, Garth Gallaway, made it clear that the charges that Scott faced in court did not accuse him of causing the crash in any way.

Scott has already paid $125,000 as a voluntary reparations payment to each family who lost members in the crash, a total of $875,000.