On 14 January 2010, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Red Checkers aerobatics team CT-4 Airtrainer aircraft collided with terrain while practicing for an upcoming aerobatics display. The pilot was fatally injured in the accident and the aircraft was destroyed by a post-impact fire.
An Appareo Systems GAU1000 data recorder was fitted to the aircraft to gather performance data as part of a fatigue monitoring programme. Although the recorder was severely fire damaged, it was recovered from the aircraft wreckage by RNZAF investigators, who subsequently requested assistance from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) in the recovery of any stored data on the recorder that may have survived the accident and fire.
Following preparatory research into the nature of the recorder's design and operation and the subsequent non-destructive examination to evaluate the physical condition of the damaged unit, a number of attempts were made to recover data from the removable secure digital/multimedia memory card (SD/MMC) - all of which were unsuccessful. Further examination of the recorder, however, located an on-board NAND flash memory device, which subsequently yielded a large quantity of valid recorded data after its removal from the primary circuitry and interrogation in a universal reader/programmer unit. The data was provided to the RNZAF on 12 August 2010.
Released in accordance with section 25 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003.