Sydney seaplane was half a mile off course before fatal crash

Sydney seaplane that crashed killing Brit family-of-five veered off course and nose-dived into river, final route reveals

Sydney Seaplanes preliminary report released

The pilot of a seaplane that crashed near Sydney on New Year's Eve, killing a leading British businessman, his fiancée and their children, had veered off course before attempting a steep turn and nosediving into water, a preliminary report has found.

44-year-old pilot Gareth Morgan had flown the route over 500 times before with Sydney Seaplanes.

The Transport Safety Board of Canada in September recommended that Canada make stall warning systems compulsory for Beaver planes after six people died during a sightseeing flight over Quebec in 2015.

"While the exact take-off path from Cottage Point has yet to be established, the aircraft was observed by witnesses to enter Jerusalem Bay".

"A turn of this nature at low altitude by a pilot with Gareth's skills, experience and intimate knowledge of the location is totally inexplicable".

Nagy said the ATSB will announce its findings should it determine the cause of the crash, but warned it may remain unsolved.

Investigators said they would retain the engine, propeller and several aircraft components for further examination.

The ATSB said the final report is expected to be released toward the end of the year. It was later repaired before re-entering service in 2000.

Crash investigators later likened the flight path to a motorist turning into a dead-end street instead of on to a freeway, and said the plane would have struggled to climb above the bay's terrain.

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As recently as last November, an inspection of the seaplane was carried out and a new maintenance release issued.

Police divers helped retrieve nearly all of the wreckage and while the bureau has kept the engine and propeller for further analysis, it was yet to find any problem with the plane.

The mangled Sydney Seaplanes craft was pulled from the water in the days after the crash.

He was "an extremely experienced float plane pilot who had all the required qualifications and licences", Nagy said.

Investigators in Australia said that the aircraft "simply should not have been where it was" and that Mr Morgan performed "inexplicable" manoeuvres prior to the crash.

The ATSB said there was no evidence of a collision or bird strike and there was no sign of any problem with the controls of the plane.

"It is possible that we're not able to know exactly what happened in that cockpit", he said.

He also held an Aviation Medical Certificate valid until March 6 2018 and was reported to have a "high standard of health".

The family had gone for lunch and taken the flight about 3pm to return to Rose Bay, near Sydney Harbour.

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