SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Feb. 5) - A formal notice of refusal will force the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji Islands (CAAFI) to activate a local team of experts to investigate last week's plane crash in which three people died.

This will be done as soon as the Interim Civil Aviation Minister Manu Korovulavula views correspondence from Australia and New Zealand to confirm their refusal to Fiji's request for technical assistance in the investigation.

CAAFI chief executive Netava Waqa said the rejection by Australia and New Zealand to assist in the investigations was through a verbal discussion.

He said once the refusal is confirmed in writing, the minister would appoint an independent team.

"Right now we are doing the investigations," he said.

"If Australia and New Zealand confirm their refusal, then the minister will have to appoint an independent team," he said. "We prefer an independent person carrying out the investigations because they will have to look into everything. The investigation will not just look at the plane crash itself but also the whole aviation industry and may also have to carry out an audit."

Mr. Waqa said the investigation would be a long and comprehensive process.

He said with the appointment of an independent investigation body, it would have to be given full authority to carry out its job.

"The key thing here is who will head the investigation body and whether or not it will have full authority to carry out its work. The investigative body will have to be critical and independent in its findings," Waqa said.

He said there were lessons to be learnt from the plane crash.

Meanwhile, Divisional Crime Officer Western, Superintendent Waisea Kadawa said the identification of the two passengers was yet to be known.

He said they would seek assistance from the Canadian Embassy in identifying the tourists.

The bodies of 21-year-old Advanced Aviation Training Academy pilot, Frederick Mitchell, and his two passengers were recovered in a joint operation by police, military, firefighters, and Abaca villagers.

The trio was on a sightseeing tour of the area when the Cessna 172 aircraft registration DQ-SKY crashed into a mountain located about 20 kilometers from Abaca Village.

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