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CASA reviews Gold Coast airspace after fatal Sea World helicopter crash

written by Jake Nelson | June 1, 2023

Exemplar view of the Broadwater facing south. (ATSB)

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has opened a review into the Gold Coast airspace where two Sea World helicopters fatally collided in January.

Though an initial review has not found any safety issues from airspace arrangements, CASA has called for pilots and operators to give feedback as part of a broader investigation.

“While there’s no indication at this stage that airspace design played a part in this devastating accident, we want to make sure we’ve given all pilots and airspace users the opportunity to provide their views on airspace arrangements,” said CASA’s branch manager for air navigation, airspace and aerodromes, Adrian Slootjes.

“The first stage of this work involves collecting data to inform a formal airspace review. We’ve had people on the ground last week observing operations and talking to operators. This will be used alongside information we receive through our broader consultation activities.”

CASA’s review is separate to an ongoing ATSB investigation into the crash, expected to finish in the second half of next year, but the authority will cooperate with the ATSB as part of its work.


“Should any new or additional information become available through that investigation we will take immediate action and consider it alongside our own work,” said Slootjes.

The incident saw two Sea World Eurocopter EC130s collide mid-air on Main Beach – minutes away from Surfers Paradise – on 2 January.

The pilot and three passengers onboard the helicopter taking off died, while three others were seriously injured. The second helicopter, approaching to land, miraculously landed with all six on board surviving.

The pilot of the helicopter that survived the crash told investigators he did not see the other aircraft taking off. A preliminary report compiled by the ATSB also details how he “did not recall” hearing a radio call from the second helicopter outlining that he was due to take off.

“This does not necessarily mean that a taxi call was not made, and the ATSB investigation will undertake a detailed analysis of the nature of the radio calls made,” said the organisation’s chief commissioner Angus Mitchell.

Operator Sea World Helicopters resumed the Gold Coast joy flights in April, having been cleared by CASA to resume operations after passing safety assessments.

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