Radio silence prior to deadly chopper crash

The 23 seconds of silence may have contributed to levitating. helicopter Four people were killed and nine injured in a collision near Seaworld on the Gold Coast.

The Australian Transport Safety Board (ATSB) has not found a recording of the radio call between pilots Ashley Jenkinson and Michael James shortly before the helicopter crashed about 40 meters off the ground and crashed on January 2. yeah.

James landed with six passengers and Jenkinson took off with seven.

It was too low for air traffic control, so the two relied on radio calls and vision.

James, who survived the crash, remembers seeing passengers board the plane of his deceased colleague. helicopter (XKQ) and thought it would pass behind his aircraft.

“They (James) did not recall the XKQ pilots making the standard ‘taxi’ call announcing their intention to depart,” the agency’s preliminary report said.

two others helicopter A nearby Marina Mirage pilot was also interviewed for radio communications.

One heard James’ inbound call but remembered hearing Jenkinson’s outbound call, but neither of the second Marina Mirage pilots remembered hearing it.

Director Angus Mitchell stressed that it didn’t mean Jenkinson didn’t call.

“We know that calls made at low altitudes are not routinely detected by their recordings, so we cannot say that the calls were not made,” he told reporters.

“There is no evidence at this stage.”

James also told investigators he didn’t see Jenkinson’s helicopter take off

“Video footage taken by mobile phone passengers of both helicopters contained images of the other helicopter. helicopterwhich does not mean otherwise helicopter It was visible to both pilots,” Mitchell said.

Sea World Helicopters equipped both aircraft with traffic collision avoidance systems.

However, these systems were not integrated and could only issue audible warnings. James said he heard no alarms that afternoon.

James’ aircraft also did not transmit a secondary surveillance radar response of its current position and altitude, and Sea World helicopters were aware of the problem.

“The aircraft was out of service in controlled airspace until corrected. Efforts continued to diagnose and address transponder issues,” the agency’s report said.

“A review of all avionics and pilot assistance systems, as well as radar and surveillance information is underway.”

The ATSB will also review procedures and practices for mass scenic flights scheduled for that day.

John Orr-Campbell, director of Sea World Helicopters, said the company is reviewing the report’s findings.

“The release of the ATSB interim report is a reminder of the tragic loss of life that day,” he said.

Jenkinson, 40, and his passengers – British couple Ron and Diane Hughes, 65 and 57, and Sydney’s mother, Vanessa Tadros, 36, died in the accident. helicopter Crashed.

Tadros’ son Nicholas, 10, has been undergoing treatment in hospital since the accident and had his leg amputated at the knee last week.

Victorian mother Winnie de Silva, 33, and her 9-year-old son Leon are recovering from injuries.

James landed the plane safely, but the shattered windshield spattered glass, injuring him and two passengers.

The injured were New Zealand women Elmarie Steenberg and Merle Swart, who were vacationing with their husbands Liane Steenberg and Edward Swart.

“All of SeaWorld Helicopters, Vanessa Tadros, Diane, Ron Hughes, our friend Ash Jenkinson, the late Chief Pilot of SeaWorld Helicopters, his family, and his family, both physically and mentally injured in the accident. My heartfelt tribute to those who have suffered,” O Campbell said. .

“My special thoughts go out to Winnie de Silva, his sons Leon, Nicholas Tadros and his father Simon, who has always been there for him.”

A final report on the crash is not expected before September 2024.