The actions of the seaplane pilot in the deadly New Year’s Eve crash have been described as “inexplicable” by the boss of Sydney Seaplanes.
On Wednesday, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released a report into the crash that killed 6 people including the pilot.
The report said that the plane was still rising as it took a sharp turn whilst in the Cottage Bay area before eventually diving into the water and killing all those on board.
Sydney Planes chief executive Aaron Shaw said that the key question “is why the plane crashed approximately halfway down Jerusalem Bay” an area that has steep terrain and no exit.
The route that the plane has been found to travel is a route that is unauthorised by the company in its Take-Off and Landing register and simply “should not have been where it was”.
The director of the ATSB, Nat Nagy, said that one of the crucial questions that needed to be answered in the report was why the pilot was flying in the incorrect direction and if the fatal turn was planned or not.
She continued to say that the first thing they wanted to understand was “whether this was part of his normal operation” with the current information obtained stating that it was not a part of the normal operation.
The standard flight path for this route is to fly north into Jerusalem Bay and then turning into Cowan Creek before reaching a high enough altitude to travel over the bushland that surrounds the region. According to the report, the flight path taken by pilot Gareth Morgan was about 1 kilometre off this path.
Richard Cousins, 58 and both of his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, were on board and died in the crash. Mr Cousins was also flying with his fiancée, Emma Bowden, 48, and her 11 year old daughter, Heather. All of the passengers were from Britain and were killed in the crash.
The majority of the plane was recovered from the river earlier this year and was sent to the ATSB to be analysed.
It had previously been revealed that the plane had been involved in a serious crash in Armidale in 1996 in which the plane was destroyed and the pilot also killed.
A final report on the New Year’s Eve incident is expected to be completed by early next year.
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