Rod Vaughan's plane crash not caused by drone - CAA

The Civil Aviation Authority has ruled that a crash involving journalist Rod Vaughan was caused by windscreen failure, not a drone.

Following the crash, which happened in March 2018, Vaughan said he believed a drone may have been the cause.

Vaughan told the Bay of Plenty Times the plane's windscreen "exploded" and a rush of air filled the cockpit.

"The wind coming through was so forceful that it blew my headset into the back of the plane, so I had no communications."

Neither Vaughan nor his son, who was also onboard, saw what shattered the windscreen, but Vaughan told media a drone was the "most probable explanation".

The CAA report said the aircraft was flying at an altitude of 1600 feet and a speed of 80 knots when there was a catastrophic failure of the windscreen.

Rod Vaughan's plane after its forced landing.
Rod Vaughan's plane after its forced landing. Photo credit: NZ Police/CAA

This caused both cabin doors to come open, which affected the aerodynamics of the aircraft.

Vaughan carried out a forced landing in a paddock south of Waihi and suffered a large gash in his head. Both passengers were left hanging upside down, still strapped into their harnesses.

A yellow marking found on the windscreen during the investigation led the pilot to believe it had been hit by a drone, but the CAA investigation found it was ultra-violet radiation staining of the glass.

Rod Vaughan suffered a large gash in his head after the crash landing.
Rod Vaughan suffered a large gash in his head after the crash landing. Photo credit: Newshub.

The CAA said the high UV levels in New Zealand can cause the degradation of the windscreen's plastic polymers, and recommends aircraft should be stored in a suitable building or with a protection cover. 

Both Vaughan and his son have made a full recovery.


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