Sydney Seaplanes preliminary report released

Casey Dawson
February 3, 2018

Sydney Seaplanes, the owner of the 1963 model, said the company remained bewildered by the crash as a preliminary investigation report released on Wednesday found no mechanical faults or safety deficiencies.

Six lives were lost when a seaplane crashed north of Sydney into a river on 31 December past year after failing to follow an authorized course.

Sydney Seaplanes chief executive Aaron Shaw noted "the key question arising from the report is why the plane crashed approximately half way down Jerusalem Bay. the plane simply should not have been where it was".

The report stated: "Shortly after entering Jerusalem Bay, numerous witnesses reported seeing the aircraft suddenly enter a steep right turn and the aircraft's nose suddenly drop before the aircraft collided with the water in a near vertical position".

"A turn of this nature at low altitude by a pilot with Gareth's skill, experience and intimate knowledge of the location is totally inexplicable."

The ATSB said it had "no information at all" to suspect the crash had been deliberate and it had received no evidence to suggest concern about Mr Morgan's mental health.

The ATSB likened the decision to enter Jerusalem Bay to turning into a dead end street instead of onto a freeway.

Canadian-born Gareth Morgan was flying the group - Richard Cousins, chief executive of British catering giant Compass Group, his two sons, his fiance Emma Bowden and her daughter - back to the city from a waterside restaurant when the DHC-2 Beaver aircraft went down.

His fiancee Emma Bowden, her daughter Heather, Cousins' sons William and Edward were also killed in the crash.

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Investigators said they would retain the engine, propeller and several aircraft components for further examination.

"Firstly, why the pilot turned that way and then whether it was an attempt to turn around".

Nagy said the ATSB will announce its findings should it determine the cause of the crash, but warned it may remain unsolved. Sydney Seaplanes bought the aircraft six years later and has flown it thousands of times since.

The plane had last undergone maintenance in November.

"It is possible that we're not able to know exactly what happened in that cockpit", he said.

The ATSB said there was no evidence of a collision or bird strike and there was no sign of any problem with the controls of the plane.

Sydney Seaplanes, which resumed flights in mid-January, has audited all planes and put pilots through extra training.

The Australian report said the investigation will consider the issue of stall warning systems.

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