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Cessna 206 incident kills 5 skydivers in Caboolture

An engaged couple with 5 children were among the five passengers, and pilot, who tragically passed away when their aircraft failed on takeoff at Caboolture airfield on 22 March 2014.

The initial Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) notification states that “about 1124 Eastern Standard Time, the aircraft departed from runway 06 with the pilot and four parachutists on board.  Soon after take-off, the aircraft impacted terrain. The aircraft was destroyed and there were no survivors.”

The aircraft was a Cessna 206 registration VH-FRT (model U206G), built in 1977 with serial number U20604019.  It was registered to Adrenalin Skydivers Pty Ltd (trading as Skydive Brisbane). It is of interest that the very aircraft that crashed was involved in an incident almost 20 years to the day at Wilpena, South Australia when the tail hit the ground on landing before the main wheels resulting in substantial damage to the aircraft.  The  inexperienced pilot landed the plane too slowly and caused a tail strike following a “balloon” or uncommanded float by pointing the nose too high while trying to land.

In an accident in 2010 another Adrenalin Skydivers Pty Ltd Cessna 206 aircraft (registration VH-TZV) suffered an engine failure after takeoff and crashed at Gladstone causing serious injuries.

There are many similarities with last Saturdays crash to the Eastland Air King Air C90, VH-LQH crash at Toowoomba Aerodrome on 27 November 2001, that resulted in the deaths of 3 passengers and the pilot. The King Air experienced an engine failure in the twin engine aircraft at a very low altitude with the pilot being unable to return to the aerodrome and crashed in an industrial estate. The subsequent Coronial Inquiry found that the pilot was not at fault. The ATSB report found that the cause of the accident was the failure of the left engine at the critical stage of takeoff. The left propeller was fitted with an automatic feathering device but for some unexplained reason the left propeller was not feathered when the engine failed.

Commercial joy flights typically fall within a different legal liability regime to “negligence” actions and Commonwealth law applied through state legislation serves to provide a (statutory) compensatory legal remedy of up to $725,000 compensation per passenger or family claim for proven losses. Such flights are often “charter” flights – ie, a flight which is a “commercial transport operation”, performed under a “charter licence” within the meaning given to those terms in Part IV of the Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1959 (Cth).

A search of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority “aircraft operator certificate” (AOC) database does not show any aircraft registered to be operated to Adrenalin Skydivers Pty Ltd, however this may mean another company or private entity hold the AOC for Skydive Brisbane.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the relatives of all that died in this terrible crash.

ATSB investigators were on site at Caboolture for three days to interview witnesses, examine the wreckage, review pertinent records including the aircraft’s operation and maintenance documents, the pilot documentation, and weather information.

Contact us for more information and to make an aviation law enquiry.

Accompanying image from Bidgee, used under the following license. Image modified from its original state.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: September 7, 2017.

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