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The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) held a media briefing near Dorrigo, NSW on the ATSB's investigation into the Bell 206 helicopter accident on 9 December 2009.

Senior Investigator Chuck Davies told the media that the investigation would seek to identify what factors may have contributed to the accident. The ATSB is also investigating two other incidents involving helicopter operations in support of fire fighting efforts, that occurred near Bathurst and Tamworth this week.

The ATSB has dispatched a team of five investigators to Dorrigo. The team arrived on site early on 10 December and is expected to be on site for 3 to 5 days. The ATSB is working closely with the NSW police who are also on site.

During their time on site, the team will; examine the site including the available physical evidence, speak to any witnesses, and visit the aircraft operator to recover relevant operational and maintenance documentation. A number of items and components from the helicopter may be recovered from the site for later technical examination.

On return from the accident site, the investigation will continue gathering factual information including the weather at the time of the accident, any recorded data, and additional witness and other interviews. The investigation will then analyse the data before making any findings and, where necessary, will encourage safety action in order to prevent a recurrence of similar accidents.

It is too early to speculate about contributory and other factors relevant to this accident. Accident investigations can be complex and fatal accidents such as occurred at Dorrigo yesterday can take many months to finalise and to release the final investigation report to the public. However, a Preliminary Factual Report will be released in about 30 days.

Any witnesses to the accident are requested to contact the ATSB at tel: 1800 011 034 or 1800 020 616, or via email

Media contact: 1800 020 616
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Last update 01 April 2011