The seaplane that crashed near Sydney on New Year’s Eve killing five Britons and the pilot was off course, according to a report.
A preliminary report by the Australian Safety Bureau says the aircraft was “away from the expected and standard flight path”.
Richard Cousins, the 58-year-old chief executive of FTSE 100 company Compass Group, died alongside his sons Will and Edward, aged 25 and 23, his fiancee Emma Bowden, 48, and her 11-year-old daughter Heather.
Image: Richard Cousins, Will Cousins, Ed Cousins, Emma and Heather Bowden
The aircraft’s Australian pilot, Gareth Morgan, 44, also died.
The Cousins family had gone for lunch and taken the flight about 3pm to return to Rose Bay, near Sydney Harbour.
Mr Cousins was due to step down from his position at Compass in March.
The de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver collided with water in Jerusalem Bay, 25 miles north of Sydney city centre, in a “near-vertical position”, according to witnesses.
The Australian Safety Bureau report said: “The operator reported that the aircraft’s expected and standard flight path after departing Cottage Point was to climb initially to the north then turn right along Cowan Creek toward the main body of the Hawkesbury River, until sufficient altitude was gained to fly above terrain and return to Rose Bay.
“While the exact take-off path from Cottage Point has yet to be established, the aircraft was observed by witnesses to enter Jerusalem Bay.
“The aircraft was observed to enter the bay at an altitude below the height of the surrounding terrain.
“Several witnesses also reported hearing the aircraft’s engine and stated that the sound was constant and appeared normal.
“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.”
Image: The seaplane crashed in Jerusalem Bay, 25 miles north of Sydney
The incident has similarities to a crash involving another CHC-2 Beaver plane in Canada in August 2015.
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