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Sea plane sinks at Hardy Lagoon

MISHAP AT SEA: David Sugar said a dive team was on site last week to assist in the salvage of a sunken plane.
MISHAP AT SEA: David Sugar said a dive team was on site last week to assist in the salvage of a sunken plane. Contributed

A VISITOR to the Whitsundays aboard a scenic flight to the Great Barrier Reef on Friday has reported the Air Whitsunday Sea plan that ran into trouble last Monday has sunk.

On Monday afternoon at about 5pm an Air Whitsunday Seaplanes plane "rubbed against the reef” causing damage to its floats while it was preparing to take off.

Since then an aerial witness claimed the plane had sunk in the vicinity of Hardy Lagoon.

"My concern is about the damage to the reef and contamination to the reef,” he said.

The witness said a salvage barge was on-site and the plane had been lifted from the bottom.

"They have got back it back floating but it's still in the middle of the reef.”

General manager of Air Whitsunday Sea Planes David Sugar said initial repair work was made on Tuesday but it was then decided by the company to "suspend the repairs and let the plane settle in shallow water”.

"It went to the bottom and was sitting in shallow water, 3-4m deep before it was re-floated,” Mr Sugar said.

Mr Sugar said a dive team was on site assisting with the salvage effort.

"It has been re-floated and is at anchor and we are assessing what our next move is,” Mr Sugar said.

"We will assess whether it will be towed or put on a barge (but) towing is the least likely option.”

No hydraulic fluid or oil escaped the plane while it was submerged, Mr Sugar said.

Mr Sugar said it was not for him to determine if the pilot was at fault but the incident would be investigated by CASA if there was an investigation into the plane sinking.

Topics:  air whitsunday casa gbrmpa great barrier reef sea plane whitsundays


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