Fatal plane crash: Queensland pilot may have lost control due to faulty seat

A Queensland pilot may have lost control of his light plane because of a faulty seat soon after takeoff before it crashed, killing him and four skydivers, an inquest has heard.

Andrew Aitken died when his Cessna 206 crashed and burst into flames after rolling left about 200 feet in the air from the Caboolture airfield, north of Brisbane, in March 2014. Skydiving first-timer Joey King, his fiancee Rahuia Hohua and instructors Glenn Norman and Juraj Glesk were also killed.

An inquest has heard that at least three mechanisms to prevent the pilot’s seat failing were absent.

A stopper to prevent the seat sliding backwards on its rails was missing and may have led to Aitken losing access to the controls, an investigator, Eric Blankenstein, told the Brisbane inquest. A secondary device to stop unwanted movement was also unfitted.

Usually on small aircraft, a passenger sitting behind the pilot would also prevent the seat moving too far backwards, in the absence of the seat backstop.

But videos shot before the accident show no one seated behind the pilot, with the skydivers occupying the back of the plane.

Investigators believed passengers were positioned there to enable them to take video footage of their skydiving experience, Blankenstein said in giving evidence.

He said it would have been “almost impossible” for Aitken to stop himself sliding back on his own with no seat stop.

The inquest before the coroner Terry Ryan continues on Tuesday.


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