Wednesday, January 3, 2018

de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, VH-NOO, Sydney Seaplanes Pty Ltd: Fatal accident occurred December 31, 2017 at Cowan Creek, New South Wales, Australia

Collision with water involving a de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver aircraft, VH-NOO, at Cowan Creek, NSW on December 31,  2017

Investigation number: AO-2017-118

The ATSB is investigating a fatal accident involving a de Havilland Canada DHC-2 aircraft, registered VH-NOO, at Cowan Creek, NSW on December 31, 2017.

At about 1500 Eastern Daylight-saving Time, the single-engine seaplane was flying in the vicinity of Jerusalem Bay, near Cottage Point. The aircraft had one pilot and five passengers onboard for its return flight to Rose Bay, Sydney. Shortly after take-off, the aircraft collided with the water and sank a few minutes later. None of the aircraft’s occupants survived the accident.

Police divers have battled through limited to no visibility on the floor of Jerusalem Bay in Sydney’s north to recover three major parts of the seaplane which plunged into the water on New Year’s Eve, killing six people including multi-millionaire British CEO Richard Cousins.

Investigators have spent the last three days scoping out the crash site and formulating a plan to raise the plane from its resting place under 13 metres of water.

Detective Superintendent Mark Hutchings from the Marine Area Command, said the fuselage, or body of the plane, looked to have suffered extensive damage on impact when it was raised from the water this morning.

“From the time the wreckage was brought on the barge we saw there was severe damage to the plane and it appeared there had been quite an impact on hitting the water,” Det Sup Hutchings said.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s executive director of transport safety Nat Nagy said there were a number of elements that had been semi-removed from the fuselage either on impact or over the last few days and that to ease the recovery mission and ensure everything fit on the barge, the floats had been detached by police from the main body of the plane.

He said a wing, the floats or pontoons and the main body of the aircraft had been lifted from the water and onto the barge, with police divers still looking for other parts of the plane before it will be transferred to shore at Rowland Reserve in Baysview later this afternoon.

Mr Nagy said the team had not yet recovered any personal items or phones that they were aware of, and that his team would conclude their on-site investigation in coming days before returning to Canberra to analyse the collected eveidence.

The ATSB is expecting to publish a preliminary factual report within 30 days, with a more extensive record of findings to be handed down in 12 months.

“Over the course of the next 12 months we will complete a report that will aim to find out exactly what went wrong, with the goal of improving safety and preventing an accident like this happening again in future,” Mr Nagy said.

NSW Police confirmed they had been in contact with relatives of the victims - Richard Cousins, 58; his two sons William, 25, and Edward Cousins, 23; his fiancee Emma Bowden, 48, who worked as Art Editor of OK Magazine; her daughter Heather, 11; and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44 - and said some were headed to Australia to assist with the investigation.

The plane, a 1964 model de Havilliand Beaver owned by Sydney Seaplanes, took off from Cottage Point Inn just after 3pm on Sunday and turned to the north-west before making a sharp turn to the right and nosediving into the water.

Witnesses, including 32-year-old Todd Stellars, saw the plane flip on impact and rushed to help but could not rescue anyone from the quickly sinking aircraft.

The six bodies were recovered from the wreckage on the day and a coroner is yet to determine the exact cause of death.

Family says thank you

As the seaplane that crashed on New Year’s Eve in Sydney’s north is lifted onto a barge to be taken ashore so that authorities can begin their investigations into the accident, the family of one of the victims has expressed their thanks for support.

A statement has been issued from Simon and Andrew Cousins, who are the brothers of millionaire British CEO Rchard Cousins who was killed in the crash. The pair have travelled to Australia as the investigation continues.

“We are fortunate and thankful for the outpouring of love and support we’ve received from across the world. We are deeply touched by the tributes to Richard, William, Edward, Emma and Heather in the media and throughout the community.

We have now arrived in Australia and as the investigation continues, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved for their dedication and commitment, in particular the Sydney Water Police and those members of the public who helped on the day of the accident. We are also thankful for the tremendous support received from Compass Group, Richard’s employer, the British Consulate General in Sydney and all those in Australia who have expressed their condolences.

On behalf of our extended families we thank you for allowing us to grieve privately during this difficult time and respect our decision to not participate in any media interviews.”

Seaplane a ‘rebuilt cropduster’

The seaplane that crashed north of Sydney killing six people on New Year’s Eve had a previous life as a crop duster and was reportedly “destroyed” in a fatal accident twenty years ago, an investigation report shows.

The Sydney Seaplanes 1964 model de Havilland Canada Beaver plunged into the Hawlesbury River after a sharp right turn on Sunday afternoon, killing millionaire British CEO Richard Cousins, 58; his two sons William, 25, and Edward Cousins, 23; his fiancee Emma Bowden, 48, who worked as Art Editor of OK Magazine; her daughter Heather, 11; and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44.

The aircraft, which is currently being floated to the river surface by police, had flown thousands of trips around Sydney since the early 2000s.

But an Australian Safety Investigation report from the late 90s shows the plane flew under a different registration in a previous life as a crop duster with the same serial number.

The plane allegedly set off from Armidale in the state’s north on November 15, 1996, and was preparing to spread a load of phosphate fertiliser on a nearby property when it fell into difficulty in gusty winds, Fairfax Media reports.

It then clipped a hillside with a wing and cartwheeled, a government report found.

The pilot was killed, and under “damage to aircraft” the investigators wrote the plane had been “destroyed”. They found that wind conditions, air density and the plane’s weight were all significant factors in the crash.

It is understood the aircraft was assessed by a specialist engineer who deemed the aircraft repairable.

It was then entirely rebuilt, recertified and owned by several more businesses before it was acquired by Sydney Seaplanes.

Parts of the plane are beginning to emerge from the water at the crash site in Jerusalem Bay.

The wreckage is expected to be completely recovered and delivered to Rowland Reserve in Bayview by the early hours of this afternoon.

Describing the Armidale crash, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau report said: “The aircraft did not seem to be climbing sufficiently to pass over the hill in front of it. The aircraft was then seen to be in a climbing left turn ... with superphosphate dumping from it. The aircraft’s left wingtip contacted the ground after which the aircraft cartwheeled and came to rest 200-300 meters from the superphosphate dump. The driver ran down to the aircraft and found the pilot still strapped in the seat with no apparent sign of life.”

Seaplanes Pilots Association vice-president Kevin Bowe said crashed planes were completely overhauled before re-use so they were as good as or better than new.

Aviation expert Neil Hansford said the fuselage was probably the only original part left on the aircraft.

“The engine on this particular aircraft has to come off every 1200 hours and this operator was pulling it off at 1100 and it’s basically return to new,” he told ABC Radio.

Authorities are using a floating crane to recover the plane, which is resting on its roof in about 15 metres of water, according to All Waterfront Constructions operations director Chris Kemp.

Mr Kemp, who will work to recover the aircraft, said two slings would be lowered and passed through the aircraft’s cabin by police divers.

“Then we’ll be lifting the whole lot up and placing it on the barge,” he told AAP.

“One of the wings is pretty badly damaged and bent over on the plane itself, so we’ll be pulling that back down and lashing it to the plane,” Mr Kemp said. The ATSB is working to determine why the seaplane went down. One possibility is the plane stalled.

Aircraft maintenance engineer Michael Greenhill told AAP on Wednesday that while it was not mandatory in Australia for Beaver planes to have stall warnings installed, most did.

“A stall is when the airflow over the aircraft’s wing becomes insufficient enough to produce lift,” Mr Greenhill said.

A Canadian report, published in September 2017, recommended the warning system be mandatory on all Beavers.

“Even if the Beaver had this system fitted there’s a large possibility there would have been insufficient time to rectify the situation due to the low altitude and approaching terrain,” Mr Greenhill said.

Recovery of the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver started at 6am today.

This is the first view of the wreckage of the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver that plunged to the bottom of the Hawkesbury River killing a family from the UK and its Canadian pilot.

The plane is being lifted carefully from Jerusalem Creek north of Sydney.

A barge was the first at the scene this morning in a six-hour operation to retrieve the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver.

The detached wing is recovered from the water.

The recovery started at 6am today.

The de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver pontoon’s or “floats” which allow the plane to land on water were the first pieces to be salvaged. Those parts of the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver have been loaded onto a barge which will be taken to Bayview Boat ramp.

One of the de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver wings has also been pulled from the water.

Pilot Gareth Morgan died when the aircraft nosedived and smashed into the Hawkesbury River before flipping over onto its roof killing passengers 58-year-old British millionaire Richard Cousins, his two sons, fiancee Emma Bowden, 48, and her daughter Heather, 11.

The plane is being lifted carefully from Jerusalem Creek. 

Amazing photographs have emerged of the same plane as it morphed from a 1964 crop duster into a seaplane.

The seaplane in 1976. 

The plane was involved in a fatal crash in 1996.

The plane morphed from a 1964 crop duster into a seaplane. 

The plane was totally rebuilt after it was involved in a fatal 1996 crash which killed the pilot as he was preparing to spray crops in Armidale in gusty winds.

It was being used as a crop duster when it cartwheeled and crashed at Armidale, with the pilot killed and the plane destroyed, according to an Australian Transport Safety Bureau report.

The DHC-2 Beaver was rebuilt and has since been owned by several businesses including, most recently, Sydney Seaplanes.

Aviation expert Neil Hansford says the fuselage was probably the only original part left on the aircraft.

“The engine on this particular aircraft has to come off every 1200 hours and this operator was pulling it off at 1100 and it’s basically returned to new,” he told ABC radio today.

Story and photos ➤

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian air crash investigators and police on Thursday began hoisting a seaplane from the Sydney river where it sank after crashing on New Year’s Eve, killing six people, including the chief executive of British catering company Compass Group Plc.

Compass chief executive Richard Cousins, 58, and four members of his family were among the six people who died when the plane hit the water shortly after takeoff, according to police.

Police divers and a barge fitted with a small crane arrived not long after dawn on Thursday to begin lifting the plane out of about 13 meters of water near Cowan, 40 km (25 miles) north of Sydney. The job was expected to take several hours.

Using the crane, underwater airbags, or a combination of the two, they hope to recover the aircraft intact and take it by barge to a park downstream for further examination. 

Investigators also hope to retrieve personal phones or other electronic devices that may have been on board when the plane crashed on Sunday, which could help to piece together what happened.

The plane’s pilot, Gareth Morgan, 44, was also killed in the crash.

Air crash investigation records, first reported by the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Thursday and reviewed by Reuters, show an airplane with the same serial number crashed 21 years earlier, when it was being used as a crop duster.

The 1996 Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) accident report found that the aircraft, a DHC-2 de Havilland Canada, likely stalled and that conditions were gusty when it crashed, killing the pilot.

“It was repaired after the accident and all appropriate approvals and checks were done.  It was then re-registered and went back into service,” a spokesman for Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority said in an email.

The ATSB did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for Sydney Seaplanes, which operated the Sunday flight, said the company had no comment while the investigation into the crash continues.

The business has operated since 2005 with no previous record of mishap. Its director, Aaron Shaw, told reporters on Monday that the engines of its planes are regularly replaced, and the motor on the crashed aircraft had flown for only 200 hours.

Australian police have identified the family members killed along with Cousins as Emma Bowden, 48; Heather Bowden, 11; Edward Cousins, 23; and William Cousins, 25.

Family members and media reports identified the four as Cousins’ two sons, his fiancée and her daughter. 

Original article can be found here ➤


Anonymous said...

see Perth Mallard Australia Day crash...

Anonymous said...

Unubsantiated rumour was heard locally that the plane clipped a tree during a turn shortly after take off.

Anonymous said...

who was in the right seat?

Anonymous said...

Who wants to know?