Published date: 11 March 2022

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has released its report into the cause of a fatal paramotor accident at Poerua River, West Coast on 12 November 2020.

The safety investigation report details the findings of CAA’s investigation into the accident at Poerua River which caused the death of a paramotor pilot on 12 November 2020.

The pilot launched from the mouth of the Poerua River for the return flight to his initial launch site - about five kilometres up the river.

The pilot was seen flying at a low level up the river. He never made it to his arranged rendezvous. The pilot died from injuries sustained during the accident, and there were no witnesses to the final moments of the flight.

The safety investigation found that the accident likely occurred as a result of an unrecovered asymmetrical wing collapse during low-level flight from which there was insufficient height to recover. A more detailed description of the accident can be found in the report below.

A CAA Safety Action (22A430) has been raised for the New Zealand Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association (NZHGPA) to remind paramotor pilots to be aware of the minimum height requirements of CAR 91.311, and to ensure they remain at a safe height during flight, and that they understand the risks in flying paramotors at low levels unnecessarily.

NZHGPA Chief Executive Nick Taber said the hang gliding and paragliding flying community was deeply saddened by this event, and their thoughts are with the pilot’s family at this time.

“We thank the CAA for thoroughly investigating this accident. It is important that as pilots we find meaning and learn from such tragic events to prevent it happening to others, which in this case highlights the importance of flying at a safe height,” Mr Taber said.

“In an ongoing programme of safety initiatives, the NZHGPA has recently created a National Safety Officer role, to proactively collate safety information, disseminate information, and better educate Regional Club Safety Officers on how best to keep local pilots safe.”

“The CEO welcome letter to newly qualified pilots now includes an important safety message, ‘in your first year I highly recommend you do not go out flying on your own’, which was promoted in part by this accident.”

The CAA and NZHGPA will continue to work closely together to help keep hang glider and paraglider pilots safe when they take to New Zealand’s skies.

A copy of the CAA safety investigation report is available on our website.


A CAA safety investigation seeks to provide the Director of Civil Aviation with the information required to assess which, if any, risk-based intervention tools may be required to attain CAA safety objectives.

The purpose of a CAA safety investigation is to determine the circumstances and identify contributory factors of an accident or incident with the purpose of minimising or reducing the risk to an acceptable level of a similar occurrence arising in the future.

The safety investigation does not seek to ascribe responsibility to any person but to establish the contributory factors of the accident or incident based on the balance of probability.

Please contact the CAA media team for further information:
027 763 0000 |