Mother made final calls before crash

Emosi Lutu, Ulamila Lutu and Adi Moala Lutu, the family of late trainee pilot Merelesita Lutu. Picture: FT FILE/ATU RASEA

THE late Merelesita Lutu received two phone calls from her mother two hours before the Cessna 172 aircraft she was flying crashed into Mt Delaikoro in Vanua Levu on February 26, 2018.

This detail is in a report on the Cessna 172 crash.

Ms Lutu was a trainee pilot at the Pacific Flying School.

The second occupant of the aircraft was instructor Iliesa Tawalo, who also died in the tragedy.

According to the report, when interviewed in relation to this investigation, the mother of the accident student pilot explained that the purpose of the call was to advise weather information that had been received from the family’s relatives at Savusavu.

“They reported that it was raining heavily in Savusavu.”

According to the inquiry, Mr Tawalo also made calls to Savusavu and Nausori before departing from Labasa.

“At 9.47am the accident flight instructor (Mr Tawalo) phoned a colleague of his who was based in Nausori. This colleague was also a flying instructor.

“When interviewed in relation to this accident, the colleague stated that he provided a weather report of Nausori’s weather to the accident flight instructor, which at the time indicated a visibility of at least 10km and a cloud base of 2500 feet.

“The colleague cautioned his friend about the weather in Vanua Levu as he knew that a trough had been forecast in Vanua Levu and pilots of another commercial flying organisation had advised that the weather there was deteriorating from the North.

“The accident flight instructor (Mr Tawalo) advised the Savusavu Flight Information Service Officer (FISO) in radio communications that their attentions at Savusavu were to ‘touch and go’ implying that they were not intending to disembark at Savusavu,” the report stated.

Information provided by the Labasa FISO to the Fiji Meteorological Service revealed visibility was 30km of rain, some cloud was scattered with a base at 2000 feet, with other clouds broken with a base of 4000 feet.

The FISO also revealed a light wind from the north west of 8 knots.

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