Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Antarctic air crash ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Antarctic air crash
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: nikki123-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 06 Nov 2004 08:53 PST
Expires: 06 Dec 2004 08:53 PST
Question ID: 425319
What damages were awarded to families of victims of the Air New Zealand
crash on Mt. Erebus, Antarctica December 28, 1979. The case was tried
in U.S. District Court of District of Columbia. Please cite sources
for this information.
Subject: Re: Antarctic air crash
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 06 Nov 2004 09:40 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

They received nothing.

The case in question was:


Civil Action No. 82-3520


July 7, 1988, Decided  

[The case is summarized like this]:

This lawsuit charges United States Navy air traffic controllers
stationed at McMurdo Naval Station on Antarctica with responsibility
for the loss of life sustained in the most serious air disaster in the
history of New Zealand, when an Air New Zealand DC-1O passenger
aircraft crashed into Mt. Erebus, killing all 237 passengers and 20 
[*1069]  crew members. n1 The issue before the Court is whether
negligence by the air traffic controllers caused or contributed to the

[and the courts decision was]:
...the Court concludes that the disaster that befell Flight 901 on
November 28, 1979 in Antarctica was the fault of Air New Zealand and
of the flight crew, and that the Navy air traffic controllers at
McMurdo Station bear no responsibility for the event. Accordingly,
judgment will be entered in favor of the defendant, the United States.

Therefore, the plaintiffs in the case did not receive any money from
the United States.

Note, too, that the crash occured November (not December) 28, 1979.

Let me know if you need any additional information on this.


search strategy:  searched legal databases for:  [ antarctica "air new
zealand" mcmurdo ]

Request for Answer Clarification by nikki123-ga on 11 Nov 2004 12:54 PST
Thank you. I had in fact found the case myself, but appreciate your
answer. I know the case was also tried in New Zealand (and parts of it
were tried in the U.K.). I wonder if it would be possible to find out
what the outcome of the case was in New Zealand/UK, that is- whether
the plaintiffs were awarded damages.

Clarification of Answer by pafalafa-ga on 11 Nov 2004 14:04 PST
Thanks for the kind rating.

I have access to databases with New Zealand legal cases and to
newspaper databases as well, but oddly enough, there's very little in
either on lawsuits related to the Mt. Erebus crash.  Even the articles
that provide ten-year and twnety-year "anniversary" retrospectives do
not talk about lawsuits taking place in NZ.

The closest they come is (1) mention of the Royal Commision inquiry
into the crash, and the various challenges and partial reversals that
took place over the course of almost 20 years, and (2) write-ups about
the case in the US, including a legal fact-finding proceeding that
took place in NZ, but that was directly realted to the US case, rather
than to any lawsuits in NZ.

If you know any more details about lawsuits in NZ or the UK --
particularly the case name, or the names of any parties in the suit --
then let me know and I'll see if I can find anything else.

Thanks again.

nikki123-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

There are no comments at this time.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy