AUSSIE PILOTS TO APPEAR IN PNG COURT

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By Dominic Krau

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 25) - The two Australian pilots who landed an aircraft at the decommissioned Aropa airstrip on Bougainville last month have been summoned to appear before the Waigani District Court tomorrow.

Lawyers for Cairns-based businessman Andrew Reid, whose company Tasman Australian Airlines owns the aircraft, and Peter McGee, who piloted the flight on September 30, appeared in court last Friday seeking to have McGee fly the aircraft from Tokua airport in Kokopo, East New Britain province, to Port Moresby for the authorities to inspect.

While the court was not in a position to make any orders, counsel Greg Sheppard stressed that there were no other qualified pilots in PNG to fly the aircraft, which is a Cessna Citation II (C550) jet.

Sheppard told the court his clients would try to come up with some arrangements with the Civil Aviation Authority director, Andrew Ogil, before returning to court tomorrow.

Reid and McGee were charged with operating an aircraft in a careless manner and being engaged in dangerous activity involving an aircraft.

Tasman Australian Airlines has also been charged with operating an aircraft in a careless manner and causing or permitting an aircraft to be used in a manner that caused unnecessary danger to persons and property.

The Civil Aviation Authority impounded the plane earlier this month and the National Court has rejected an appeal by Reid to have the plane released.

Police are also searching for an Australian and a Briton who were aboard the plane when it landed.

Police say Australian Jeff Richards and Briton James Nessbit were believed to be in the no-go zone area.

October 26, 2004

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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