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Seaplane in Sydney tragedy ‘crashed fatally in 1996’

January 8, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The seaplane that crashed north of Sydney, killing five passengers and the pilot on New Year’s Eve, had been “destroyed” in a fatal accident two decades ago and rebuilt, an investigation report shows.

ABC News and WA Today have cited an investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) which shows that long before it was reborn as a seaplane, the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver in the Sydney crash was once used for crop dusting and was involved in a serious crash near Armidale in November 1996 that killed the pilot.

Investigators could not identify any single factor that caused the 1996 crash, but said: “It is likely that during the turn whilst dumping the superphosphate, the aircraft stalled and the pilot was unable to regain control before the aircraft struck the ground.”

Sydney Seaplanes de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver

Investigators into the 1996 crash also found that wind conditions were conducive to windshear and turbulence, and the aircraft was climbing at near maximum weight.

After the 1996 crash, a specialist engineer assessed the damage and found the aircraft was repairable, according to ABC News citing the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

The de Haviland DHC-2 Beaver was built in Canada in 1963 and bought by Sydney Seaplanes in 2006.

It has also emerged that Pippa Middleton, the sister of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, is one of a number of celebrities who flew on the aircraft with Sydney Seaplanes.

Wreckage from the New Year’s Eve crash has now been recovered from the sea and a full investigation is underway, led by the ATSB. It could be many months before a final report emerges.

There is no suggestion the earlier crash has anything to do with the later one. For a smart and knowledgeable perspective this article in Quadrant by Geoffrey Luck, a pilot and former ABC journalist, is worth reading.

Sydney Seaplanes, Australia’s largest seaplane operator, has suspended all operations until further notice following the tragic crash.

The crash killed one of Britain’s top chief executives, Richard Cousins, his two sons, his fiancée and her 11-year-old daughter, and pilot Gareth Morgan. Morgan, 44, was a highly experienced pilot who specialised in seaplane aviation and Cousins was chief executive of the world’s largest food-service company, the Compass Group.

Written by Peter Needham

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