1. ITV Report

Sydney seaplane investigation to examine similar crash

The plane plunged into the Hawkesbury River around 25 miles north of central Sydney. Credit: AP

Investigators are looking into potential similarities to crashes involving the same model of seaplane which was involved in the death of a British family in Sydney on New Year's Eve.

One crash in 2015, which caused the death of another British family when they were travelling in a De Havilland DHC-2 Beaver, is being reviewed as part of the investigation into Sunday's incident.

An examination of the wreckage of the plane which plunged into the Hawkesbury River off Jerusalem Bay, 25 miles north of Sydney city centre on December 31 is being carried out by air investigators.

A plane similar to the one the family were flying in. Credit: PA

Richard Cousins, the 58-year-old chief executive of FTSE 100 company Compass Group, died alongside his sons Will and Edward, aged 25 and 23, his fiancee Emma Bowden, 48, and her 11-year-old daughter Heather.

Gareth Morgan, 44, who was an experience pilot, also died in the crash.

Comparisons have been made with a crash in Quebec, Canada, which took place in August 2015, involving another CHC-2 Beaver plane, which also resulted in the death of four members of a British family.

Richard Cousins was the chief executive of The Compass Group. Credit: PA
Emma Bowden, 48, and her 11-year-old daughter Heather. Credit: Facebook
Will Cousins was head of press for campaigners Open Britain. Credit: Twitter
Edward Cousins. Credit: Facebook

On Tuesday, Nat Nagy, executive director of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, told a press conference that all incidents involving the same model of plane would be looked into as part of the investigation.

He said: "We will be looking at any previous incidents and accidents specifically around this type of aircraft.

"It's been in use and service for many decades so we will be thoroughly looking at it.

"I think it's important not to draw any conclusions that this is something that is a systemic issue. We haven't identified anything previously that there's anything systemic.

"Over the course of this week we will be able to piece together the factors surrounding the accident and from there, if we do identify any issue that is a safety critical issue, we will notify the appropriate authorities immediately."

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

The aircraft involved in the New Year's Eve crash was manufactured in 1963, but it is not unusual for a plane of that age to still be in operation, according to Mr Nagy.

It is still unclear what the exact circumstances surrounding the crash were and investigators are trying to reconstruct events leading up to it.

The family left in the plane from Cottage Bay Inn, where it is understood they had a meal, at about 3pm. from where their flight was supposed to take them back to Rose Bay, near Sudney Harbour.

My Nagy said the plane took a hard right-hand turn prior to impact around 10 minutes later.

Following the Canadian crash in 2015, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) ascertained the plane, operated by Air Saguenay, stalled in a steep turn and descended vertically before hitting the mountain and setting fire.

Fiona Hewitt, 52, her husband Richard, 50, and children 14-year-old Harry and 17-year-old Felicity, all from Milton Keynes, died.

The TSB recommended that the Candian Department of Transport required that all commercial DHC-2 aircraft in Canada be fitted with a stall warning alarm.

Mr Nagy said it was not yet clear whether the plane involved in the Sydney crash had a warning system fitted.