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“A 1988 New Zealand television miniseries about Air New Zealand Flight 901, which crashed in Antarctica in 1979. The miniseries, a docudrama, was produced by Television New Zealand, and was broadcast in New Zealand and Australia and follows the Royal Commission of Inquiry formed to quell to public demand for a conclusive answer to the question as to what caused the accident that left 257 dead.
The New Zealand Government announced a further one-man Royal Commission of Inquiry into the accident, to be performed by Justice Peter Mahon.
Mahon's report, released on April 27, 1981, cleared the crew of blame for the disaster. Justice Mahon said the single, dominant and effective cause of the crash was the changing of the aircraft's navigation computer co-ordinates to route the aircraft directly towards Mount Erebus, without the crew being advised. The new flight plan took the aircraft directly at the mountain, rather than along its flank. Due to whiteout conditions, "a malevolent trick of the polar light", the crew were unable to visually identify the mountain in front of them. Furthermore, they may have experienced a rare meteorological phenomenon called sector whiteout which creates the visual illusion of a flat horizon far in the distance. Justice Mahon also found that the radio communications centre at McMurdo Station had authorised Captain Collins to descend to 450 metres (1500 feet), which is below the minimum safe level.
Justice Mahon controversially claimed airline executives engaged in a conspiracy to whitewash the enquiry, famously accusing them of "an orchestrated litany of lies" by covering up evidence and lying to investigators.”

Part three: Air New Zealand fight back against Mahon’s attack on Ron Chippendale’s report. However, Mahon is convinced the Capt. Jim Collins was flying his plane with distinct knowledge he was 27 miles west of Mount Erebus. Mahon flies to the US and Antarctica to confirm certain of his suspicions.

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Year 1987

Reference number F90464

Collection Film and Video Collection

Media type Moving Image


Place of Production NEW ZEALAND/AOTEAROA

Genre Television

Duration 0:57:00

Production company Television New Zealand

Location information

Credits Narrator: Dick Weir
Director: Peter Sharp
Producer: Caterina De Nave
Editor: Dermot McNeillage
Camera: David Caldwell
Sound: Neil Newcombe
Researcher: Diane Musgrave
Researcher: James Griffen
Writer: Greg McGee
Series Cast: Frank Finlay
Series Cast: Peter Cox
Series Cast: Lewis Martin
Series Cast: Stephen Tozer
Series Cast: Bruce Allpress
Series Cast: James Wright
Series Cast: Peter Elliott
Series Cast: Bruce Phillips
Series Cast: Jonathan Elsom
Series Cast: Ken Blackburn
Series Cast: Frank Whitten
Series Cast: Geoffrey Snell
Series Cast: Simon Prast
Series Cast: Jeffrey Thomas
Series Cast: Jim McFarlane
Series Cast: Don Hope Evans
Series Cast: Alistair Douglas
Series Cast: Helen Moulder
Series Cast: Paul Gittens
Series Cast: Roy Billing
Series Cast: David Cole
Series Cast: Maggie Maxwell
Series Cast: Kevin Wilson
Series Cast: Bill Johnston
Series Cast: Paula Jones
Series Cast: John Watson
Series Cast: Dianah Priestley
Series Cast: Pam Merwood
Series Cast: Johnny Bond
Series Cast: David Cameron
Series Cast: Michael Morrissey
Series Cast: Chic Littlewood
Series Cast: Rhys McConnoChie
Series Cast: Ray Henwood
Series Cast: Brian Bell
Series Cast: David Copeland
Series Cast: Brian McDermott
Series Cast: Eddie Campbell
Series Cast: Peter Jones
Series Cast: Ian Mune

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