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A preliminary report by the ATSB into the five-fatality parachuting centre accident near Willowbank, QLD on 2 January has found several areas of safety interest in the engine's turbocharger and the fuel used that will require further detailed analysis.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau preliminary findings reveal that the aircraft struck a 23 metre tree about 1,200 metres from the runway then crashed into a small dam 47 metres from the tree. Witness reports indicated that the engine apparently had a partial power loss that prevented it from climbing normally.

The aircraft had been fitted with a higher powered Lycoming engine in April 2004 in accordance with US regulatory approvals. The investigation found no defect with the engine itself and in particular, the crankshaft was serviceable.

Fuel tests conducted on a sample of the fuel used in the aircraft have indicated that further examination of the fuel is required. The turbocharger was disassembled and that examination has indicated several areas of interest that will also require further detailed examination.

The aircraft was being flown by one pilot as a Private flight, carrying three sport parachutists and three passengers for a tandem parachute jump. Of the seven on board all but two were fatally injured. The two survivors were severely injured.

The investigation is continuing and will include further detailed examination of the fuel, and turbocharger components, recorded air traffic control radar and audio information, aircraft maintenance and pilot records, sports parachuting operational and regulatory aspects, and video information retrieved from on board camcorders.

The full report is available on the ATSB website.

Media contact: 1800 020 616
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Last update 01 April 2011