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Mon, Mar 24, 2008

Inquest Finds Numerous Faults In 2006 Skydiving Accident

Coroner Says Others Should Heed Lessons Learned

Take your pick. An inquest into the January 2006 downing of a skydiving plane in Queensland, Australia uncovered a wide range of safety discrepancies and oversights, a number of which likely contributed to the crash that killed five of the seven people onboard.

Among the concerns heard by the panel at Maidstone in Kent included smoke seen billowing from the Cessna U206H (accident aircraft shown above) as it took the runway for takeoff; substandard fuel in the plane's tanks; a pilot who lacked the proper certification to conduct commercial skydiving flights; passenger restraints loosely fastened to the plane's floor; and an aircraft loaded 200 pounds over its gross weight.

As ANN reported, six skydivers and their pilot were onboard the single-engine Cessna. Five of those persons, including the pilot, were killed when the plane failed to gain altitude on takeoff, and impacted a dam less than a half-mile from the airport.

Two survivors -- including the owner of Brisbane Skydiving Centre, Brian Scoffell -- were able to escape the sinking wreckage.

The hearing also found none of the skydivers onboard were wearing helmets, reports The Scotsman. Deputy coroner Stephen Beck said the findings should serve as a lesson for other operations.

"There are serious safety issues here and I feel the findings of this report should be made available to both the British Parachute Association and the Civil Aviation Authority in this country," Beck said. "There are lessons in here to be learned on this side of the world.

"Clearly there is not one particular thing which caused the crash," he added, "but there are a number of safety issues and recommendations for future operations should be made."

FMI: www.atsb.gov.au

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