ATSB will not investigate mid-air crash as it needs to ‘prioritize resources’ – Australian Aviation

The incident happened near the Sunshine Coast Gliding Club

The ATSB has said it will not investigate this week’s deadly mid-air collision near the Sunshine Coast as it must focus its resources on larger aircraft.

The organization told The Australian that it understands the “responses desired” from next of kin but needs to allocate its resources to cases that would bring the “greatest benefit to public safety”.

On Wednesday, a recreational plane and glider crashed, killing the only pilots, an 80-year-old Christopher Turner and a 77-year-old, as yet unidentified Glenwood man.

ATSB Chief Inspector Angus Mitchell said: “We understand that the next of kin and the flight community these two gentlemen were a part of want answers, but as it stands at the moment we are prioritizing our resources on the investigations that are taking place doing so will see the greatest benefit to public safety.

“That means large passenger aircraft are at the top of our priority list, and then smaller passenger transport and commercial work, then aerial work and flight training.”

Mitchell said the ATSB will help both Recreational Aviation Australia (RAAus) and the Gliders Federation of Australia launch their own probe.

However, RAAus chairman Michael Monck said he himself was “in a bind like any other organization” and had received “very little funding”.

Gliders Federation of Australia vice-president Lindsay Mitchell said the ATSB had “done it before”.

“They say you lads can take care of it. They’re conducting the investigation,” Mitchell said.

Australian Aviation reported earlier this week how a witness told 7News he was sitting on his porch when he heard a “big bang”.

“We didn’t think that sounded like a shot and when we looked up we saw white chunks of airplane falling from the sky.”

Before the crash, the glider and its tow plane were taking off from Gympie Aerodrome in Kybong, home of Sunshine Coast Gliding.

It was confirmed that the second aircraft involved in the incident was not the tow plane.

Inspector Brad Inskip said: “The glider has departed from the gliding club. At this point we are not sure where the microlight came from, if it came from here… it’s too early to know.

“The investigation includes mapping these scenes, examining the aircraft and moving on from there, and of course witness testimony and interviews.

“This is a tragic incident and quite a graphic scene for all emergency services and for the witnesses… horrific for the family and those involved.

“It’s a small local airport where a lot of people from the community gather – the gliding club is obviously very close by.

“It’s a small regional gliding club. You all know each other. This will hit the community very hard.”

The Queensland Forensic Crash Unit is investigating the circumstances of the incident and a report is being prepared for the coroner.

Mid-air crashes are rare, the last in Australia occurring in February 2020.

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