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Abrolhos crash: Light plane remains partially in water after Easter holidays delay recovery

Anna Cox and Claire SadlerGeraldton Guardian
The light plane ran off the runway and into the water at Big Rat Island in the Abrolhos.
Camera IconThe light plane ran off the runway and into the water at Big Rat Island in the Abrolhos. Credit: Brian Poh/Brian Poh

Recovery attempts to remove a crashed plane that is partially in water at the Abrolhos Islands have been delayed because of the Easter holidays and its tricky location.

No one was injured when the Shine Aviation Gipps Airvan GA8 aircraft overshot the runway at the southern end of Big Rat Island on Thursday about 8.40am.

Seven people — including reports of children — were on board. All passengers and the pilot were taken to the local nursing post for a precaution, but were uninjured.

On Monday, the plane remained with its nose in the water and its tail resting on the edge of the island.

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It is understood the process of recovering the aircraft will be difficult because of the shallow water surrounding the island, making it hard for barges to enter.

The Air Transport Safety Bureau will investigate the cause of the “runway excursion” and why the plane “landed long”.

ATSB chief commissioner Angus Mitchell said investigators would collect and examine relevant evidence, including interviewing the pilot, analysing relevant weather data, photographs, aircraft operator procedures and maintenance records.

The investigation is expected to take six to nine months but is subject to change.

Shine Aviation owner and managing director John Gooch said the sole focus had been on making sure the passengers and crew were all OK.

On Friday afternoon, Mr Gooch received confirmation that all of those aboard the plane were doing well.

“We will assess the situation this afternoon and hopefully recover the plane (this) week,” he said.

“There are not many engineers or a recovery team to remove the plane over the Easter weekend.

“It’s a technical removal process because of where it’s situated.”

Mr Gooch said the plane hadn’t disrupted any other scheduled Shine Aviation flights.

He said the company would conduct an internal investigation in conjunction with the ATSB.

Similar occurrences on neighbouring Wallabi Island happened in 2018 and 2021., involving different charter companies. Light planes carrying passengers for scenic flights over ran the run way, none reported injuries to passengers or pilots.

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