• Westwind VH-NGA resting on the bottom of the ocean near Norfolk Island. (ATSB)
    Westwind VH-NGA resting on the bottom of the ocean near Norfolk Island. (ATSB)

The ATSB has announced they will re-open the investigation into the 2009 Norfolk Island ditching after a Canadian review highlighted issues with the original process.

The announcement came yesterday, only four days after Minister Warren Truss indicated in parliament that he would urge the ATSB to give serious consideration to re-opening the case.

"In response to the TSB review, the ATSB Commission has decided to reopen its investigation into the Pel-Air accident," the ATSB announcement said.

"A new investigation team will review the original investigation and associated report in the light of any fresh evidence and relevant points raised in the TSB review and other recent aviation reviews.

"At the same time, the ATSB Commission will continue to methodically and carefully work its way through the broader findings and recommendations of the TSB review, with the aim of ongoing improvements to the future work of the ATSB.

"The ATSB will provide regular public updates on the progress with the re-opened Pel-Air review and with its broader consideration of, and response to, the TSB review."

For Dominic James, the pilot who had to ditch Westwind VH-NGA off Norfolk Island due to low fuel and poor visibility, the news comes as a huge relief. The original report pointed towards pilot planning as the cause, and James has been fighting to have the report withdrawn since the day it was issued.

"I am hugely relieved to see the ATSB finally withdraw this plainly dishonest report," he told Australian Flying, "but only after years of informed criticism from all fronts.

"The next important step will be the renewal of the Federal Police investigation so as to bring those responsible to account and to prevent this from happening again in the future."

The ATSB is expected to issue a response to the Canadian TSB report in the coming months.

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