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Coroner fails to find cause of plane crash

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By Paul Osborne and Christine Flatley


August 09, 2007 05:15pm


Article from: AAP


Melb Herald Sun


A CORONIAL inquest into a 2001 air crash west of Brisbane which killed four people has failed to identify the cause of the accident and recommended no charges be laid.


The conclusion handed down today by Queensland coroner Michael Barnes left bereaved family members angry.


Pilot Bruce Johnson and Queensland government mental health team members Dr Allen Hughes (Allen Hughes), Dr Katherine Thompson and Alan Duckett died when their Eastland Air charter flight crashed on take-off from Toowoomba Airport on November 27, 2001.


The coroner found the pilot was not at fault and no charges were recommended.


But he reprimanded the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and called on the agency to re-assess its maintenance procedures.


An Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) report previously found engine failure was the most likely cause of the crash.


A problem had existed in the aircraft's left engine for months prior to the accident, the safety agency said.


Dr Thompson's father told reporters outside the court today he believed there were several areas of blame.


"I blame the operator for not having systems in place, I blame the maintenance man who was totally incompetent in the way he handled his job, and I blame CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) for not picking up what they were doing and for not doing something about it,'' he said.


Mr Thompson said the inquest result was unsatisfactory.


"You can't have closure when your daughter's dead.''


Dr Thompson's mother Bronwen dismissed the inquest as a farce.


"I just thought the whole thing was a total whitewash and a total waste of money,'' she said.


"I can't believe that it was so blatantly obvious who was to blame for this.


"If any one of those people had done what they were morally obliged to do our daughter would be alive today.''


Vanessa Hughes-Ainsworth said her life and that of the families of the other victims had been "changed for good''.


"They're able to kiss their children in bed at night ... my husband never even got to meet his daughter,'' she said.


The Eastland Air C90 twin-engined King Air had just taken off from the airport bound for the south-western town of Goondiwindi when it experienced trouble, crashed into trees and a power pole, flipped and exploded.


Local workers tried to put out the fire but could not get close enough because of nearby gas cylinders.


Eastland Air is no longer operating



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