A 53-year old pilot has been rushed to hospital with serious injuries after his Piper-PA32 crashed shortly after takeoff from Moorabbin Airport in Victoria on Tuesday.
First responders said the pilot was lucky to be alive after his single-engine light plane, VH-CWK, crashed into trees, and nosedived to the ground, about 1km north of the airport just after midday.
A Fire and Rescue Victoria spokesperson said the crash occurred in Heatherton, a suburb in Melbourne’s south-east, near the intersection of Old Dandenong Road and Clarinda Road, around the Capital Golf Course.
The pilot is believed to be in serious but stable condition, according to Ambulance Victoria, after he was trapped inside the crashed aircraft for more than 10 minutes before paramedics arrived at the scene. He was the only person aboard the six-seater aircraft at the time.
Witnesses at the scene rushed to aid the man, who is said to have been easily removed from the wreckage of the plane due to the aircraft’s extensive damage.
The man was alive and conscious when first responders arrived, according to reports, though did appear dazed and confused.
He was brought to The Alfred hospital and is currently being treated for head injuries, as well as cuts and scrapes to both his upper and lower body.
It is not yet known what caused the crash, however the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has said it has launched an investigation into the cause of the incident.
The ATSB said a team of transport safety investigators from the ATSB’s Melbourne and Canberra offices have already been deployed to the accident site, where they will examine the aircraft wreckage and site surrounds.
The ATSB will also analyse available recorded data, review pilot and maintenance records, and interview involved parties, the safety investigator said, and will publish a report on the incident upon the conclusion of its investigation.