'Zero chance' pilot survived crash in Tasmanian wilderness, police say

 abc.net.au  12/8/2018 2:39:04 PM   Monte Bovill

Updated December 09, 2018 10:13:46

The wreckage of a missing plane has been located in Tasmania's remote south-west.

Key points:

  • The plane was on a routine flight to pick up passengers from Melaleuca settlement
  • The ABC understands it was owned by Tasmanian company Par Avion
  • Police will be helicoptered to the site today

The twin-engine plane, believed to be owned by Tasmanian charter company Par Avion, and its pilot went missing on Saturday over mountainous terrain in the state's south-west.

It was on a routine flight to pick up passengers from Melaleuca settlement — a trip of about 115 kilometres.

The weather at the time was described as "poor".

The aircraft departed from Cambridge airport and is believed to have been in the air for about 40 minutes before its emergency beacon was activated.

Police said at 7:10pm the wreckage was sighted by crews aboard the Westpac Rescue Helicopter at West Portal, near the Western Arthur Range, and that there was "zero change of survivability".

"Tragically, it was determined by the highly experienced search and rescue police on board that the pilot could not have survived the crash," Tasmania Police said in a statement.

"The conditions were such that it was too dangerous for the Search and Rescue members to be winched down to the scene at that time."

The name of the pilot has not been released.

Earlier, Par Avion's parent company Airlines of Tasmania managing director Shannon Well said the pilot had "done this flight many times".

"The pilot has done this flight many times and the aircraft is well suited for flights into the south west. The tracking system shows the aircraft was in the air for about 40 minutes and followed the usual route and altitude before getting into trouble over the Arthur Ranges."

"We do not know with certainty what went wrong and can only speculate as to what occurred, but based on Bureau of Meteorology reports, we believe weather may have been a factor," Mr Wells said.

Tasmania Police Inspector Dave Wiss said an investigation team would be helicoptered to the site today.

"Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time," Inspector Wiss said.

"We remain in contact and we will continue to provide them with the information we currently know to assist them in coming to terms with this terrible accident."

Police said they would work with the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and that the matter was now before the coroner.

A police press conference is set to be held at midday today.

Topics: accidents, air-and-space, community-and-society, tas, australia

First posted December 09, 2018 01:39:04

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