Two pilots miraculously survive plane crash in Port Macquarie

Emergency services workers with the injured flying instructor.
Emergency services workers with the injured flying instructor.

THE two pilots who miraculously survived a light plane crash in Port Macquarie remain in a serious but stable condition in hospital.

The crash occurred at 8.30pm on September 8 when it is believed the aircraft lost power mid-air less than one kilometre from the end of the Port Macquarie airport runway.

The plane crashed into dense swamp land on the edge of the Thrumster residential precinct, ejecting a 25-year-old female flying instructor and crushing her 25-year-old trainee pilot.

A distress signal activated just moments before they crashed was enough to launch a multi-agency rescue operation involving, police, Fire & Rescue, ambulance, the State Emergency Service, Westpac Rescue Helicopter and PolAir.

The woman sustained fractures to her arm, pelvis and shoulder, lacerations and internal injuries. After a four-hour rescue, she was transported via ambulance to Port Macquarie Base Hospital and then flown to Liverpool Hospital in a serious but stable condition.

The trainee pilot suffered critical injuries and was winched by helicopter from the site. He sustained head, chest, pelvis, limb and internal injuries and was flown directly to John Hunter Hospital where his condition has improved to serious but stable.

The pair were night flying in a Diamond 40 aircraft as a part of future pilot training through the Australian International Aviation College (AIAC) which operates out of Port Macquarie’s airport precinct.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau officials are conducting an investigation into the incident with the assistance of AIAC’s head of operations Kevin McMurtrie.

“Our company is cooperating with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau in investigating the accident,” Mr Murtrie told the Port News.

“We thank all the people who have contacted us offering their concern, support and best wishes for our flight instructor and student.”

AIAC is a member of the Hainan Airlines of China group of companies.

Since 2013, about 150 pilot cadets a year from China were expected to train under the guidance of the Port Macquarie-based aviation college in a step towards becoming pilots with Hainan Airlines.

Each student spends up to 16 months training in the Hastings.

The investigation at the crash site is still ongoing, a spokesperson from the ATSB said.

“Three Transport Safety Investigators, with expertise in flight operations, aircraft maintenance and aircraft systems, are examining the site and wreckage.

“In addition, the investigation team will be gathering recorded data and interviewing witnesses.

“It is too early in the investigation process for the ATSB to release any preliminary findings.”

Any witnesses to the accident are requested to contact the ATSB on 1800 020 616.

A final investigation report into this accident is expected to published on the ATSB’s website in May 2018.