Report in air crash that killed five men is released
THE Australian Transport Safety Bureau has released a preliminary report into a fatal plane crash at Lockhart River which killed five Cairns men.
QBuild workers Wayne Ganter, 63, Henry Roebig, 62, and Wayne Brischke, 57, pilot Stuart Wavell, 36, and contractor Mark Rawlings, 49, died when the twin-engined Cessna 404 Titan crashed into sand dunes on March 11.
The ATSB's preliminary report includes facts from the early evidence collection phase of the investigation, including the sequence of events, information from the crash site, and weather.
The Cessna, operated by Air Connect Australia, had departed Cairns at 7.19am for a planned same-day return charter flight to Lockhart River.
The plane was scheduled to spend about five hours in the Cape York town before departing again at 2.30pm.
The weather on the day was cloudy with periods of rain and possible thunderstorms, the report says.
ATSB Executive Director Transport Safety Nat Nagy said investigators were able to build an understanding of the aircraft's flight path using transmitted GPS data recorded at five-second intervals by an app on the pilot's iPad.
The data shows the pilot was conducting an area navigation GPS instrument approach using track and distance information to try to land at Lockhart River.
The pilot initiated a missed approach just after 9.05am before climbing back to 3500 feet for a second approach at landing.
Halfway along that approach, the aircraft descended through the minimum safe altitude of 1800 feet for that segment, the report says. After a short period where the descent rate decreased, the aircraft then descended again and diverged to the left just before 9.20am.
"Tragically, the descent continued until the aircraft impacted a sand dune on the coast, fatally injuring all on board," Mr Nagy said.
The crash site was located on a sand bank adjacent to the beach, about 6km southeast of Lockhart River Aerodrome and 300m to the southwest of the specified approach track, Mr Nagy said
"Examination of the wreckage indicated that both engines were operating normally with substantial power on impact and that the landing gear was extended," he said.
"There was no evidence of any structural or mechanical defects with the aircraft."
"As the investigation continues, the ATSB will continue its analysis of recorded flight data and weather conditions."
Mr Nagy said the findings, contributing factors, and safety issues and actions would be part of the ATSB's final report.
Lockhart River was also the scene of another fatal plane crash in 2005, when 15 people died.
Originally published as How ill-fated Lockhart River flight unfolded