In this Jan. 4, 2018, photo provided by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), wreckage of a seaplane is lifted from a river north of Sydney. The owner of the seaplane that crashed near Sydney during a New Year’s Eve joy flight, killing the Canadian pilot and his five British passengers, says that flight path was not authorized according to a preliminary report released Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. (ATSB via AP)

Investigator says B.C. pilot impaired by fumes in 2017 Australia crash

Pilot Gareth Morgan and his five British passengers died during a joy flight on New Year’s Eve

A Canadian seaplane pilot was impaired by carbon monoxide fumes from engine exhaust when he flew off course and crashed into a river near Sydney in 2017 with the loss of six lives, a crash investigator said Friday.

Pilot Gareth Morgan, a former resident of North Vancouver and his five British passengers died during a joy flight on New Year’s Eve when the DHC-2 Beaver flew low into a dead-end bay surrounded by steep terrain and then crashed into the Hawkesbury River.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the crash investigator, said autopsies revealed that Morgan and two passengers had elevated levels of carbon monoxide in their bodies.

“The levels of carbon monoxide were likely to have adversely affected the pilot’s ability to control the aircraft,” bureau chief commissioner Greg Hood said in a statement.

The passengers were Compass Group chief executive Richard Cousins, his fiancee Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter, Heather Bowden-Page, and his two sons William, 25, and Edward, 23. The bureau did not say which had been effected by carbon monoxide or reveal the concentration levels.

Investigators also found cracks in the exhaust system of the plane that was built in 1963 and bolts missing from a firewall that would have allowed carbon monoxide to leak from the engine bay into the cabin, the bureau said.

The plane’s owner, Sydney Seaplanes, said in a statement it had a strict program for engine maintenance and inspection which was performed by a regulator-approved organization.

The missing bolts were not a fault that would be discovered by the pilot during his pre-flight safety checks, the owner said.

Based on the ongoing investigation, the bureau on Friday warned owners of all piston-engine planes to takes steps to detect carbon monoxide in cabins.

The bureau has not said when its final report on the cause of the crash will be released.

Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 20 to 26

Rabbit Day, Hobbit Day and One-Hit Wonder Day are all coming up this week

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

COVID on Central Coast prompts call for information sharing

At least four cases have been identified on the central coast

NAALS receives funding for new child care centre

This project incorporates a longhouse design and reflects a Nuxalk architectural approach.

Lorena Draney celebrates 100th birthday in Bella Coola

She still knows how to enjoy a good party!

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Application deadline for fish harvester benefits program extended

Those financially impacted by the pandemic have until Oct. 5 to apply

Most Read