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ATSB begins investigation into Saturday’s firefighting plane crash

written by Jake Nelson | November 6, 2023

An AGAIR Rockwell 695A Jetprop Commander crashed near Cloncurry in November 2023. (Image: Flight Standards/Facebook)

The ATSB has launched an investigation into the fatal crash of a firefighting aircraft in Queensland over the weekend.

The Rockwell 695A Jetprop Commander light aircraft registered VH-HPY went down close to Eloise Copper Mine, near Cloncurry in the state’s northwest, on Saturday afternoon while engaged in fire surveillance activities. All three people on board were killed.

“A team of transport safety investigators from the ATSB’s Brisbane office with experience in aircraft operations and maintenance is preparing to deploy to the accident site,” the transport safety watchdog said.

“Over the coming days, investigators will conduct a range of evidence-gathering activities on site including site mapping, wreckage examination, and recovery of any aircraft components for further examination at the ATSB’s technical facilities in Canberra.

“Investigators will also seek to interview any witnesses and involved parties, and collect relevant recorded information including flight tracking data, as well as pilot and aircraft maintenance records, and weather information.”


Mt Isa Police Superintendent Tom Armitt told the ABC that the wreckage is “confined to a relatively small area”, and that the owner of the property assisted in allowing investigators access to the site.

“Our primary role is to complete a report for the coroner and to determine, through those investigations, the cause of the accident and what occurred,” he said.

“It’s a difficult site to get to, obviously, it’s rough country.”s

The aircraft’s Victoria-based operator AGAIR, as well as Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, have expressed their condolences on social media.

“We are all utterly devastated, and our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the families of our staff,” said AGAIR on Facebook.

“Our sincerest gratitude to the first responders and QFES who are providing ongoing assistance to us.”

The ATSB says it will assemble a preliminary report in approximately 6-8 weeks, with a final report to come after the investigation.

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