Swan River plane crash: wreckage removed from river, ATSB probe begins

A police boat patrols the debris of a plane that crashed into the Swan River whilst displaying during an Australia Day Skyworks event in Perth on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)
A police boat patrols the debris of a plane that crashed into the Swan River whilst displaying during an Australia Day Skyworks event in Perth on Thursday, Jan. 26, 2017. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

A RESTRICTION zone of 200m around the Swan Rover crash site of a seaplane at the Australia Day Skyshow was removed at 9.30am today.

“I can advise that the exclusion zone has been lifted, and all wreckage has been recovered,” a Department of Transport spokeswoman told the Western Suburbs Weekly.

Wreckage of the Grumman Mallard is being stored and examined at the Swan River Trust’s riverside compound in Victoria Park, following divers’ searches over the shallow and muddy riverbed.

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) spokesman said the investigation would take “several months to a year” into the crash.

The accident killed pilot Peter Lynch (52) and his girlfriend Endah Cakrawati (30) just after 5pm on the national holiday.

“The ATSB deployed two investigators who arrived at the accident site during the afternoon of January 26,” the ATSB spokesman said.

“Over the next few days (the investigators) will examine the accident site, interview witnesses, and collect maintenance and pilot records, and air traffic control recorded data.”

Mr Lynch was a committed plot and supporter of aviation, but he was concerned about hot weather’s potential impact on the flight when the 1948-built Mallard took off from a Serpentine airfield before the crash.

During its appearance at the Skyshow, the Mallard appeared to stall, before nosediving into shallow water between South Perth and Heirisson Island.

In a 2013 interview with Down Under Aviation Magazine, Mr Lynch described how he wanted to fly from boyhood.

“For me flying was about fulfilling a lifelong ambition, being able to get around a big country much quicker and having fun,” he said

After owning other aircraft, including a twin-engine Comanche, he wanted the water-landing and take-off Grumman G-73 Mallard.

The 12-seater could cope with all his business and personal flying, including the pastime’s social side and airfield fly-ins.

He said the Mallard, on which he had trained for many hours in Florida when it was purchased, was “a true airborne campervan” that allowed people to walk around its spacious cabin.

Crash witnesses should call the ATSB on 1800 020 616 or email ATSBinfo@atsb.gov.au.