Air Whit­sun­day sea plane sinks at reef

Whitsunday Times - - NEWS - Peter Car­ruthers Peter.Car­ruthers@ news­re­gional­me­

A VIS­I­TOR to the Whit­sun­days aboard a scenic flight to the Great Bar­rier Reef on Fri­day has re­ported the Air Whit­sun­day Sea plane that ran into trou­ble last Mon­day had sunk.

On Mon­day af­ter­noon at about 5pm an Air Whit­sun­day Sea­planes plane “rubbed against the reef” caus­ing dam­age to its floats while it was pre­par­ing to take off.

Since then an aerial wit­ness claimed the plane had sunk in the vicin­ity of Hardy La­goon.

“My con­cern is about the dam­age to the reef and con­tam­i­na­tion to the reef,” he said.

The wit­ness said a sal­vage barge was on-site and the plane had been lifted from the bot­tom.

“They have got back it back float­ing but it’s still in the mid­dle of the reef.”

Gen­eral man­ager of Air Whit­sun­day Sea Planes David Sugar said ini­tial re­pair work was made on Tues­day but it was then de­cided by the com­pany to “sus­pend the re­pairs and let the plane set­tle in shal­low wa­ter”.

“It went to the bot­tom and was sit­ting in shal­low wa­ter, 3-4m deep be­fore it was re-floated,” Mr Sugar said.

Mr Sugar said a dive team was on site as­sist­ing with the sal­vage ef­fort.

“It has been re-floated and is at an­chor and we are as­sess­ing what our next move is,” Mr Sugar said.

“We will as­sess whether it will be towed or put on a barge (but) tow­ing is the least likely op­tion.”

No hy­draulic fluid or oil es­caped the plane while it was sub­merged, Mr Sugar said.

Mr Sugar said it was not for him to de­ter­mine if the pilot was at fault but the in­ci­dent would be in­ves­ti­gated by CASA if there was an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the plane sink­ing.

FUNDRAISERS: Shona Russell (right) vis­its Janelle “Woody” East­wood at the Proser­pine Hos­pi­tal on Fri­day.

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