Plane crash probe continues

INVESTIGATIONS continue into the cause of a plane crash south of the Coffs Harbour Regional Airport on Friday, from which a pilot and four skydivers were lucky to walk away.

The single-engine Cessna lost power and came down short of the airfield, crash landing into dense scrub about 12.15pm.

The 23-year-old pilot, two skydiving instructors and two students on board all walked away from the plane crash unharmed.

The aircraft’s wings remained intact, while its front wheel broke off during the rough landing.

As inquiries into the cause of the crash continue, radio reports yesterday speculated that the plane came down because it had run out of fuel.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) clarified the report, stating it is yet to make any finding into the engine failure.

Coffs City Skydivers, the company involved in the near miss, says the aircraft lost power at 1200 metres while attempting to land at the airport.

It said the aircraft was on descent from 3000 metres after air traffic controllers in Brisbane informed the skydivers they would have to wait 25 minutes for permission to jump because of incoming air traffic.

The plane, which was crossed-hired by the company, had only flown 50 to 60 hours since having a new engine installed, the company stated.

Coffs Clarence detectives have interviewed the pilot.

Investigators will also assess flights logs, aircraft maintenance records and communications with tower air traffic controllers prior to the crash.

Police say the aircraft had only just been fuelled prior to taking off.

CASA corporate communications manager Peter Gibson said the cause of the engine failure won’t be known until all the information is collected.

“Overall CASA’s role is to regulate air traffic not to investigate incidents, that’s the role of the Australian Transport Safety, which has been notified of the incident but has decided not to investigate the matter,” Mr Gibson said.

“If a finding is made that some form of mechanical failure was at fault then only then will CASA act to ensure that other aircraft of the same make are not at risk.

“Any suggestion that a lack of fuel caused the engine failure is merely speculation at this stage.”

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