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Oil slick clue to missing mail plane


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April 10, 2008 05:59am


Article from: AAP


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A FREIGHT plane is missing after taking off from Sydney airport overnight.


The Metroliner aircraft operated by Airtex Aviation was occupied only by the male pilot and took off from Sydney bound for Brisbane at 11.30pm (AEST) yesterday, a Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman said.


"Ten nautical miles (18.5km) south-east of the airport, air traffic control got a broadcast from the pilot that he was having problems," the spokesman said.


"Shortly after that the aircraft disappeared off the radar at about 4000 feet (1219 metres)."


The aircraft's last reported location puts the Metroliner off the coast from Bundeena in the Royal National Park where a search operation has concentrated its efforts overnight.


A number of parcels, believed to have been aboard the aircraft, have been found in the water, a NSW Police spokesman said.


"Polair have spotted an oil slick in the water," the police spokesman said.


"Water police, Polair and a Sea Hawk helicopter have spent the night searching in an operation run by the Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Canberra."


The Metroliner, a 19-seat aircraft when used as a passenger plane, is believed to have been on a mail run.


"This particular aircraft was first registered in Australia in February 1998," the CASA spokesman said.


"We don't know what the problem was the pilot was alluding to, he didn't give any details in his broadcast, but obviously that is something we will look into as part of our investigations."



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Guest airsick

A bit more from the SMH


Sydney plane crash, pilot missing


By Lauren Williams


April 10, 2008 07:30am


A MILITARY Seahawk helicopter was called in to join a desperate search for a pilot and his plane this morning, missing since last night off the Sydney coastline.


The cargo plane is thought to have crashed into water 10 kilometres south of Botany, off Jibbons Beach in Sydney's south.


Rescue squads hold grave fears for the lone pilot of the 19-seat Metroliner aircraft, on a routine mail run to Brisbane.


The pilot alerted authorities that he was experiencing "technical difficulties" only minutes after departing Sydney Airport at 11.20pm last night.


The plane then disappeared off the radar.


Australian Search and Rescue coordinated a massive air and sea response overnight.


Nine aircraft, including the NRMA Care Flight helicopter fitted with night vision technology joined maritime services in scouring the coastline off Bundeena for clues overnight.


Helicopter crews reported sighting debris off Jibbons Beach at around 1am and continued to trace oil slick sightings in the water overnight.


But hindered by darkness, the crews failed to locate the wreckage this morning.


Some cargo, boxes and fiberglass were finally sighted off Jibbons Point shortly before 6am but the pilot is still unaccounted for.


Witness Andrew Holmes was transporting his boat to its berth at Jibbons beach when he saw the plane flying erratically, darting left and right at about 12am.


"We saw it go up in the clouds and then we lost it. About 30 seconds later it came down out of the clouds at a 45 degree angle, tried to level out and then just disappeared behind the horizon," he said


"We saw an orange glow on the horizon,"


"We couldn't believe we had just seen a plane crash".


Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said the twin engine Fairchild Metroliner had run into trouble five nautical miles south of Sydney airport.


"The pilot reported problems then disappeared off the radar at around 2000 feet," he said


"Air traffic control had broadcast to him to begin turning left and heading north and it was about that time he replied he was having problems,"


He said the pilot had not provided details about the nature of difficulties he was experiencing.


Mr Gibson said it was not unusual for a plane headed to Brisbane to be heading south from Sydney during curfew hours.


The Fairchild Metroliner, operated by Bankstown based Airtex Aviation, is the same model of plane involved in the Lockart River Air Disaster in Cairns in 2005.


Fifteen people died in the crash - considered one of the worst air disasters in Australia's history - after the pilot ploughed into a mountain on appraoch to the Lockart River airstrip.


Mr Gibson said the Australian Transport Safety Bureau would lead an investigation in to the cause of the crash.


"CASA will also be looking at the incident very carefully... given that this is a commonly used aircraft for both passenger and freight" he said.



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Guest Fred Bear

Plane found on ocean floor following crash


Authorities have found the wreckage of a plane that crashed overnight shortly after taking off from Sydney Airport.


It is understood the freight plane went down after taking off from Sydney last night, and disappeared from radar at about 11.30PM (Eastern-time).


The pilot radioed in problems with his aircraft, and later vanished.


Five police helicopters and two further Seahawk choppers joined the search this morning, with a Search and Rescue spokesman saying today they believe the wreckage has been found.


Search and rescue had earlier been following an oil slick seen on the surface of the ocean as an indication of the aircraft's location.


It is understood that the twin-engine freight plane had been en-route to Brisbane, and was carrying only it's pilot, and baggage.


Some bags and small debris had earlier this morning been spotted on the surface of the sea, with a Navy minesweeper understood to have located the plane on the seabed.


A witness had earlier told Sky News he saw the plane disappear.


"It came moving back down at about a 45 degree angle and came back towards the ground, then levelled out and disappeared over the horizon," Fisherman Andrew Holmes said



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Guest Fred Bear

Pilot stood no chance - police


April 10, 2008 03:07pm


Article from: AAP


THE pilot of a plane on a mail run that went down off Sydney had "zero" chance of survival, police say.


The 43-year-old Sydney man was at the controls of the twin-engine Metroliner when it went down in the sea late last night.


The Metroliner was on a mail run from Sydney to Queensland for Airtex Aviation.


Inspector Glenn Finniss of the Marine Area Command said the plane hit the water at high speed.


"The wreckage that's been recovered thus far would indicate a high speed impact into the water and the survivability of that was very, very minimal," he said.


"Because of the search ... we did last night and this morning, the chances of survival are zero."


The search for the pilot would be called off at nightfall, he said.


The pilot reported problems to air traffic control a short time after taking off from Sydney airport at 11.30pm (AEST) yesterday.


The plane dropped off the radar moments later.


Retrieving the wreckage would be difficult because it was4.5 nautical miles off Bundeena, south of Sydney, and 117m down, Insp Finniss said.


It was too deep for police divers and the navy to reach, he said.


Police would have salvage experts raise the wrecked plane, which could take up to five days.


"The possibility is that his body is still trapped inside the wreckage," Insp Finniss said.



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Guest Fred Bear

Sympathies to both of you (and any others that knew John). I read everywhere that he was a great bloke so again, a senseless tragedy. Unfortunately I do not have audio of John encountering the problem. They usually patch the two departure freqs (129.7 and 123.0) together at night but this did not seem to be the case on this particular evening.



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Thanks Darren,


I first met him when I sold him some Basic Gas Turbine books on eBay a few years back, I offered to drop them off to him and as he lived not far from me at the time it was convenient, I thought it'd be a five minute trip, we ended up chatting for over an hour, the passion in is voice when telling me how he started out, the "fun" he'd have flying the Mojaves etc at Airtex without wx radar and chattering to the blokes in the big jet's for a look at weather...



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