Pilot Josh Hoch accused of pouring contaminants into commercial rivals’ aircraft fuel tanks and faking crashes for insurance is contesting the charges.
Pilot Josh Hoch accused of pouring contaminants into commercial rivals’ aircraft fuel tanks and faking crashes for insurance is contesting the charges.

Pilot accused of tampering with rivals’ planes

A NORTH Queensland pilot accused of pouring contaminants into commercial rivals' aircraft fuel tanks, faking crashes for insurance and ­flying charters without a ­licence for years is contesting the charges.

Josh Hoch, then aged 31, was charged with 342 offences by police in January 2017 ­following a multi-agency ­investigation into the alleged tampering of aircraft at Mount Isa Airport.

Police will allege in court they became aware of Hoch's offending in October 2016 when another pilot reported damage to his plane for the second time that year.

It is alleged he tampered with three planes belonging to the Macquarie Pilot Centre, a company based in NSW, but which operates out of numerous airports including the Mount Isa Airport, to compete for charters.

Hoch's defence made an ­application in the Townsville Supreme Court yesterday.

They are seeking for the five counts of endangering the safety of a person in a vehicle with intent, that Hoch is charged with, to be overridden by similar Commonwealth charges.

If convicted, Hoch faces a maximum penalty of life ­imprisonment for the charges of endangering the safety of a person in a vehicle with intent.

Detectives working under Operation Oscar-Demotic ­allegedly uncovered evidence of fraud, tampering with ­aircraft, dangerous operation of aircraft and numerous ­aircraft safety breaches.

It will be alleged each case was the same, with a contaminant poured into the fuel tanks of the aircraft, under the cover of darkness at Mount Isa ­Airport. When the engines fired, the contaminant caused ­catastrophic damage to the ­aircraft, grounding the planes for months, it is alleged in court documents.

Hoch has also been charged with insurance fraud relating to the alleged staged crash landing of two planes in 2014 and 2015.

It will also be alleged in court that Hoch was masking those commercial flights as private trips and would not log flight hours in order to bypass crucial maintenance checks.



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