ATSB’s preliminary report into Sea World helicopter crash on the Gold Coast released

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A report into the deadly mid-air collision of two helicopters above the Gold Coast Broadwater says the pilot of the helicopter coming in to land did not hear a call over the radio by the pilot taking off.

But that does not mean that the taxi call was not made, according to a preliminary report released today by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).

Two helicopters operated by Sea World Helicopters collided mid air on January 2 on the Gold Coast Broadwater.

Four people died, another six received serious injuries while three others sustained minor injuries in the crash.

One helicopter was destroyed and another was severely damaged but managed to land.

A preliminary report into the Seaworld helicopter collision has been released. (AAP: Dave Hunt)

ATSB chief commissioner Angus Mitchell says “it’s important to stress that we are yet to make findings”. 

“The two helicopters collided at an altitude of about 130 feet, 23 seconds into the departing helicopter’s flight,” Mr Mitchell said.  

“The helicopters were operating in a non-controlled airspace where pilots use a Controlled Traffic Advisory Frequency to make radio calls to announce their positions or intentions, and where necessary to arrange separation from other aircraft.

“The report details the calls made by the pilot of the returning helicopter and as they tracked south over the Broadwater, that they saw passengers boarding the second helicopter as it was preparing to depart.

“The pilot of the returning helicopter recalled that the assessment was that the departing helicopter would pass behind them and that they did not recall the pilot making a standard taxiing call, thereby announcing their intentions to depart.

“This does not necessarily mean that a taxiing call was not made.”

ATSB chief commissioner Angus Mitchell says video on the aircraft and ground was assessed in the production of the report.(ABC News: Heidi Sheehan)

He said the ATSB would undertake a detailed analysis of the radio calls that were made.

“It will depend on what evidence we can get, not only recordings, equally from witnesses. There may be some things that we may not be able to completely determine,” he said.

Sea World Helicopters pilot Ashley Jenkinson, New South Wales woman Vanessa Tadros and British couple Diane and Ronald Hughes died when two helicopters conducting joy-flights collided near the Gold Coast theme park.

Three other passengers were critically injured including Geelong woman Winnie De Silva, her son Leon and Ms Tadros’s son Nicholas, who remains in hospital.

Arriving pilot did not see other helicopter depart

Mr Mitchell said the report also details that the pilot of the arriving helicopter did not see the helicopter actually depart the helipad. 

“While video footage taken by the passengers on both helicopters on mobile phones contained images of the other helicopter, this does not necessarily mean the other helicopter was visible to both pilots,” he said. 

“The investigation will look closely at issues both pilots potentially faced in seeing the other helicopter.

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