Five feared dead after chopper goes down in bad weather off NSW coast

| 08.09,19. 07:20 AM |



Five feared dead after chopper goes down in bad weather off NSW coast



Photo: The restored Bell UH-1H Iroquois helicopter that crashed off the NSW coast during bad weather. (Supplied: Simon Coates)

Five people — four men and a woman — are missing feared dead after a private helicopter mysteriously vanished off the radar in bad weather in the Port Stephens area without issuing a mayday call.


It is understood the chopper was flying from Coffs Harbour to Bankstown when it disappeared about 6.15pm on Friday. Earlier reports also said it had taken off from Brisbane.


Rough weather was continuing to hamper a recovery mission for the helicopter.


Police said divers assessed the scene this afternoon and deemed conditions too dangerous to head underwater.


Police said the families of those missing had been contacted.


One of the missing is believed to be the pilot and owner of the operating company, Brisbane Helicopters, David Kerr.


A former business partner of Mr Kerr, Michael Jurgens, said the pilot was highly experienced.


"He had quite a few hours under his belt, flown a lot of different helicopters, could fly with the best of them, but unfortunately weather circumstances and whatever has happened," Mr Jurgens said.


The helicopter is believed to be a former military Bell UH-1 helicopter, known as a "Huey".


"It had just been fully restored at Archerfield [Airport] so quite a lot of money had gone into the machine," Mr Jurgens said.


"It was practically like a brand new helicopter and it had been test flown and everything, and had done quite a few flights.


"[There was] nothing wrong with the machine but unfortunately no-one knows what can go wrong when you go up in the air, anything can happen."


Debris unable to be recovered


An earlier search and rescue operation, covering 150 square nautical miles off Fingal Bay was suspended about lunchtime today after "expert medical advice" was received.


Weather conditions in the area at the time the helicopter went missing were poor with strong winds and reduced visibility.


Air traffic control indicated that the helicopter was rapidly losing altitude when contact was lost.


There were no detected emergency beacons signals or mayday calls.


The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said it had been contacted by Williamtown air traffic control at 6:15pm on Friday reporting that a helicopter had disappeared from radar about four nautical miles south of Fingal Bay.


During searches on Friday night, aircraft sighted an oil slick and several pieces of debris.


These were unable to be recovered due to weather conditions, but were in the area consistent with the helicopter's last known position.


When searching resumed at first light today, a rescue boat sighted the tail rotor of the missing helicopter in the search area.


Later today, a rescue helicopter located the main airframe of the helicopter semi-submerged in the search area about five miles south of Fingal Bay.


The airframe sank a short time later before rescue boats were able to reach the area.


AMSA said the location of the airframe was consistent with the "drift model" of where the helicopter was believed to have entered the water.


Earlier, the search had been coordinated by AMSA assisted by officers from the NSW Police Marine Area Command, Port Stephens-Hunter Police District, Westpac Rescue Helicopter, NSW Marine Rescue and various aerial support.


abc


(Votes: 0)

Other News

Manhunt underway for two men who robbed WA gun store Motion to condemn abortion bill voted down at NSW Liberal State Council meeting Bushfires rage across southern Queensland, residents told to immediately leave Binna Burra and Applethorpe, too late to leave Stanthorpe NSW bushfires burning out of control, two houses lost and firefighter injured in Tenterfield Man charged with manslaughter after boy is hit and killed by a car outside Sydney school Police investigating brawl in showbag hall at Royal Adelaide Show CCTV footage of Tanya Day hitting head in Castlemaine police cell released by coroner 'Depraved and abhorrent' father Richard Haynes, who raped daughter, sentenced to 45 years in prison The Egyptian Community Canberra held a farewell dinner for H.E. Mohamed Khairat and his wife Mrs Omneya Negm Mandatory drug tests for welfare recipients could be rolled out under Government plan Man charged over stabbing death of Gold Coast teen Schools put into lockdown in south west Sydney as woman brandishes knife in street Yacht carrying tonne of drugs hits Abrolhos Islands reef, alleged smugglers found on island Samantha Knight killer Michael Guider released from jail and targeted by motorcyclist Police identify woman found in Brisbane park, launch homicide investigation Catastrophic bushfire conditions forecast for parts of southern Queensland tomorrow Woman's body found by council workers in northern Brisbane's Kalinga Park Australian Federal Police raid Canberra home where intelligence officer lived Holidaymakers spending millions more than they need to on foreign cash exchange Pair arrested over alleged Melbourne hit-and-run that killed international student Interest rates stay on hold at 1pc as Reserve Bank holds fire despite stalling economy Medibank accused of misleading 800 policy holders who were waiting for surgery Accused wife killer John Chardon denies asking 15yo daughter to lie for him Man and woman arrested over toddler's death in Melbourne's south-east William Tyrrell in Spider-Man suit photo to be probed by forensic investigators Three men in serious condition after Melbourne stabbing Family rescued after night in bush following Father's Day beach walk on NSW Central Coast House price surge in Sydney and Melbourne drags national index higher Australia's old powerlines are holding back the renewable energy boom Dead woman found wrapped in plastic was never reported as missing, police say