The ATSB has commenced an investigation after a light plane crashed into the sea near Redcliffe in northeast Brisbane shortly after take-off on Sunday.
The plane, a single-engine Rockwell Commander 114, collided with water near the Redcliffe Aerodrome just after 9am.
The wreckage was later found by authorities upturned in shallow water near the mangrove wetlands, after being spotted by another aircraft.
The pilot and owner of the aircraft, a 67-year-old male, and all three passengers onboard were killed in the crash, and the aircraft was destroyed.
The three passengers included a 41-year-old male and his two children, aged 10 and nine.
Meanwhile, the pilot’s family is said to have been present at the Redcliffe Aerodrome at the time of the incident.
Both families are “deeply traumatised” over the incident, according to Police Inspector Craig White.
“This is a tragic accident … in the lead-up to Christmas and the last thing that any family need to go through at this time of the year, at any time,” he said.
It is not yet known what caused the crash, and the ATSB has commenced an investigation. A preliminary report into the crash will be available within eight weeks.
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said that finding and retrieving the plane from the crash site was challenging.
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“The plane is in a very, very difficult position in the wetland area and we have currently got police and divers [in] that area,” she said.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Angus Mitchell said the organisation was working with Queensland police in the investigation.
“Early reports are that [the crash] was not long after take-off, but we’ll need to confirm that with air traffic control,” he said.
“Equally anything we can get from the aircraft itself, any types of recorders that may have been aboard the aircraft and any other information, such as witnesses, to confirm exactly what stage of flight [the crash happened].”
In a statement, the ATSB said it will begin the “evidence collection” stage of its investigation, including examination of the accident site and wreckage by its specialised investigators.
“The ongoing investigation will collect and examine other relevant evidence, including recorded data, weather information, witness reports and pilot and maintenance records,” the bureau said.
The incident bears a striking resemblance to another crash that occurred in August, which saw an amateur-built Acroduster Too aerobatic plane crash into mangrove wetlands in northeast Brisbane, near Bribie Island.
Reports suggested it took emergency services around an hour to locate and reach the plane’s wreckage due to its location in the mudflats, west of Bribie Island and north of Brisbane.
The pilot was the sole occupant onboard and was fatally injured in the crash.
A preliminary report by the ATSB later found that two eye bolts used to secure the aircraft’s upper wings failed due to fatigue cracking, causing an in-flight break up and ultimately seeing the rapid descent of the plane.
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