Charter operator Rossair has grounded its aircraft fleet after one of its Cessna Conquest twin turboprops crashed near Renmark, South Australia on Tuesday afternoon, killing all three on board.
The aircraft, Cessna 441 Conquest II VH-XMJ, had been conducting a training flight from Adelaide to South Australia’s Riverland region and return. The accident occurred soon after the aircraft departed Renmark at around 4:15pm.
“Just after 4.30pm on Tuesday 30 May, police were advised by AusSAR (Australian Search and Rescue) of an ELT (electronic locator transmitter) activation aboard a Cessna Conquest aircraft near Renmark,” South Australia Police said in a statement on Wednesday morning.
“The nine-seater twin turbo propeller aircraft had left Renmark Airport at about 4.15pm with three people on board including the pilot.”
Police found the wreckage in heavy scrub approximately four kilometres from Renmark airport, located near the Victoria-South Australia border.
The Adelaide-based company’s chief pilot Martin Scott, experienced pilot Paul Daw who was undergoing a check flight and a representative from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Stephen Guerin were on board. There were no survivors.
The airline said in a statement it has grounded its fleet of Embraer EMB-120 Brasilias, Beechcraft 1900s and Cessna 441 Conquests as a “prudent and precautionary measure” and that it was “working collaboratively” with CASA.
“Our staff are in deep shock at our loss and our deepest sympathies are with the family members concerned. This is an extremely sad event. Rossair will work with aviation authorities to determine the cause of the crash,” Rossair said in a statement on Wednesday.
“On behalf of the Australian Government I would also like to extend thoughts and prayers to the family and loved ones of all those on board,” Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said in a separate statement on Wednesday.
“I am advised that South Australian Police have secured the scene and the ATSB are conducting preliminary investigations.”
Rossair said it was the company’s first fatal incident in five decades of operations.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said on Wednesday it had opened an investigation into the accident.
“The ATSB has deployed a team of five investigators to the accident site with expertise that includes aircraft operation and maintenance,” it said in a statement on the ATSB website.
“While on site the team will be examining the site and wreckage, gathering recorded data including radio and radar, and interviewing witnesses.”
CASA said on Twitter it was “deeply saddened” by the death of its operations inspector Guerin, who was observing the Rossair check flight.
It said the widely respected Guerin had worked for CASA since 2008 and is remembered by colleagues as being passionate about aviation and meticulous about safety, in addition to being a “true gentleman”.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all those involved in this tragic accident,” CASA said in a statement on its website.
Australian Aviation extends its deepest sympathies to the families and friends of those lost in the accident.