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Formally identifying victims of Friday’s fatal light plane crash at Lake George near Canberra could take weeks because of the aircraft’s ‘total destruction’.

The 65-year-old pilot, his 11-year-old grandson and two granddaughters, aged nine and six, were killed when the five-seater Cirrus SR22 registration VH-MSF plummeted to the ground and exploded.

The pilot was highly experienced and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said on Saturday that teams were already examining the crash site in a paddock at Gundaroo, north of Queanbeyan.

‘This will be a difficult undertaking given how burnt the wreckage is,’ the ATSB’s Colin McNamara said.  

‘But over the coming days, I am fully confident that the investigators will gather as much information and evidence as they can from the accident site.’

Mr McNamara said ATSB crews will monitor for spilled chemicals, burnt carbon fibre and possible explosive materials.

The five-seater single-engine Cirrus SR22 VH-MSF crashed and caught alight near Lake George in the NSW Tablelands around 2.52pm on Friday

The crashed plane was registered to Up N Up Aviation, owned by Mike Cahill (pictured) who is president of the Redcliffe Aero Club

Investigators said working out was caused the crash and identifying the victims would be difficult because of the level of destruction

The plane had taken off from Canberra on a 750km trip to Armidale in northern NSW.

The pilot from Bunya in Brisbane is said to have had hundreds of hours of flying experience, while his grandchildren are reportedly from NSW.

The aircraft was registered to Up N Up Aviation, owned by Mike Cahill who is president of Redcliffe Aero Club in Brisbane. It’s not clear who was at the controls of the 21-year-old plane when it fell from the sky. 

It crashed minutes after takeoff, after climbing to 9,000ft before it quickly lost altitude and smashed into the ground where it burst into flames.

The single-engine aircraft exploded on impact at around 2.50pm.

The Redcliffe Aero Club released a statement on Saturday following the crash.

‘The Redcliffe Aero Club expresses its deepest condolences to the family of the pilot and passengers who were tragically killed on Friday the 6th October 2023,’ the organisation said.

‘The pilot was active in the social side of the Club with many hours of flying experience.’

Redcliffe Aero Club in Queensland issued a statement on Saturday saying the pilot was active in their club

The light plane crashed (pictured) in Canberra’s north-east on Friday afternoon before the aircraft burst into flames

Emergency crews (pictured) arrived at the scene following the crash as firefighters from the Rural Fire Service quickly worked to douse the flames

Flight information shows the single-engine aircraft arrived in Canberra on Wednesday after travelling via Armidale from Redcliffe, north of Brisbane.

It’s understood the plane vanished from radar screens 16 minutes after taking off on Friday.

Mr McNamara praised the first responders to the scene.

‘These are indeed tragic circumstances exacerbated by the news that children have been involved,’ he said.

He also asked for any other witnesses to the crash to contact the ATSB.

‘Yesterday we were contacted by a number of witnesses which we’re very appreciative about. It does prompt me to say, if anyone has relevant information pertaining to this accident, please go to our website.’

The Cirrus SR-22 is a single-engine aircraft and is one of the most popular General Aviation aircraft in the world, regularly topping global best-seller lists

Six minutes after take-off, the plane made a sharp plunge near Lake George with air traffic control unable to establish communications with the pilot

The area was still alight when emergency crews arrived and firefighters worked quickly to extinguish the blaze.

‘When police arrived with RFS services there was a small grass fire and obviously a catastrophic crash of a small light aircraft,’ Police Superintendent Cath Bradbury said.

‘The RFS extinguished the plane – unfortunately there are no survivors. They are yet to be formally identified. A report will be prepared for the coroner.’

The US-made Cirrus SR-22 is a single-engine aircraft and one of the most popular General Aviation aircraft in the world, regularly topping global best-seller lists.

Mr McNamara said engineers will study the plane’s maintenance log as well as the flight history of the pilot.

The ATSB’s preliminary report is expected to be released within two months. 

Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk

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