Report: Trainee pilot helps when aeroplane’s engine fails

Main Stories, National

The National, Monday December 16th, 2013

 THE Australian trainee pilot who was one of three people killed in the recent Tropicair plane crash in Western last month helped the pilot from when the engine failed until it crashed, an investigation report says.

The preliminary report released by the PNG Accident Investigation Commission yesterday said that on Nov 25, the Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft departed Kamusi in Western for Purari River in Gulf at about 1.51pm on a charter flight. 

The aircraft was carrying the pilot and nine passengers, one of whom, in the right pilot seat was a pilot about to begin training with the operator, plus freight and baggage.

“Approximately two minutes into the cruise there was a loud ‘pop’ followed by a complete loss of engine power,” the report said.

The pilot was assisted by the passenger in the right pilot seat, who switched on the emergency locator transmitter and began broadcasting ‘Mayday’.

“Checking the database in the global positioning system, the pilot found the airstrip at Kibeni on the eastern side of the Palbuna River,” the report said.

At about 3,000 feet, the pilot asked for radio silence on the area frequency so he could concentrate on the approach to Kibeni airstrip.

It said the pilot later levelled the wings before the aircraft impacted the water.

“After a short delay while he gained his bearings under water, the pilot was able to undo his harness and open the left cockpit door. 

“He swam to the surface, opened the door at the rear of the fuselage, and helped the surviving passengers to safety on the river bank.”