'Not survivable': Search for missing plane called off
THE search for a missing Brisbane couple has been called off as police commence a recovery effort for signs of a light plane which crashed off Moreton Island yesterday.
In a statement, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) said it had ended its search for the plane, which took off from Caloundra to Tangalooma Island Resort yesterday.
"Significant amounts of debris belonging to the aircraft have been recovered to the east of Moreton Island," a spokeswoman said.
"All evidence indicates the aircraft ditched into the water at high speed.
"AMSA has received expert medical advice that the impact would not have been survivable."
AMSA has extended its sincere condolences to the family of the 70-year-old pilot and his wife, a 52-year-old woman, who were both from Wakerley in Brisbane's bayside.
A Queensland Police Service spokeswoman said police would now be launching a recovery effort.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating the incident.
IT'S unlikely a Brisbane couple have survived a plane crash near Moreton Island as authorities desperately scour waters for any signs of the missing aircraft.
Police say the next three hours are crucial in finding the 70-year-old pilot and his wife, a 52-year-old woman, before it's determined if resources should be scaled back.
The major search and rescue operation resumed at first light this morning after the plane, which is believed to be a 1978 Cessna, issued a mayday call about 4.30pm on Wednesday.
This is the mayday call from the light plane missing, feared crashed, off the coast of Moreton Island. The call was made at 4:30pm yesterday. No further contact could be made with the pilot. The search for the plane is ongoing. @7NewsBrisbane pic.twitter.com/qv5Xpfz4Pi— Joel Dry (@JoelDry7) January 23, 2020
The pair, both from Wakerley in Brisbane's bayside, took off from Caloundra towards Tangalooma Island Resort for a scenic flight with the intention of returning to Caloundra.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) is leading the search, joined by Queensland Water Police, the Redcliffe Coast Guard, Bribie Island Volunteer Marine Rescue, six helicopters, including two owned by Sunshine Coast-based McDermott Aviation, AMSA's Challenger jet and a Queensland Fisheries Patrol Vessel.
Addressing media this afternoon, Moreton Police Inspector Craig White said the nose wheel and sheet metal from the plane were found north of the island as more debris was slowly being located.
Insp White said the light plane crash would be investigated by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, with assistance from police.
"Search efforts are continuing at this stage, however it's been determined that the likelihood of survival is quite low at this time," he said.
He said it was a "terrible time" for the family of the missing couple.
"Police have engaged with the next-of-kin, who are aware of the situation and continue to be supported by other family and friends," Insp White said.
"It's a terrible time for the family, because they still have no certainty as to the welfare of their loved ones."
It's understood the plane was a private hire from a Caloundra aviation school.
The owners of the aircraft, a Little Mountain husband and wife, say they are "extremely saddened" over the unfolding event.
"We are extremely saddened by what had happened and our hearts and prayers go out to the family of the missing people," they said to the Daily.
Insp White said the search area had been extended due to the plane's wreckage being scattered with winds and tides.
He said the 70-year-old man was an experienced pilot and had flown about six hours in the past four days - some of that time spent in the plane that has crashed.
Police will continue conduct sonar searches around the area, which will determine if divers will need to join the search if larger pieces of debris are found.
The sonar can detect debris up to 40m below sea level.
'GUT-WRENCHING' RADIO CALL AS PLANE DISAPPEARED
Experienced pilot and TV traffic reporter Ben Mihan was in the air at the time the mayday call sounded across his aeroplane radio.
"It was a gut-wrenching feeling," he said. "As a pilot I knew that when a plane goes off the radar like that, and when there was no second mayday call, something catastrophic had happened."
Mr Mihan said the radio call was hard to decipher due to other noise on the radio, but said there was one call for mayday, before the radio fell silent.
The call sounded as Mr Mihan and his helicopter pilot were on the way back to Redcliffe Airport following a traffic report. He said his first instinct was to help in any way he could.
"My gut instinct was to get the camera out and use it to try locate where it went down," he said.
"I tried to see if there was any fire or smoke or if it had made impact with land. I looked around the water but unfortunately the waters were murky and hard to see into."