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At about 0712 Central Standard Time on 19 January 2006, a Beech Aircraft Corp 58 Baron aircraft, registered VH-MNI, departed Darwin Airport, NT, on a charter flight to McArthur River Mine Aerodrome, NT. The flight was conducted under the instrument flight rules. On board were the pilot and one passenger. During the flight, the pilot advised air traffic control that his expected arrival time at McArthur River Mine was 0915. At about 0915, the aircraft was observed to fly overhead the aerodrome at a normal circuit height (1,000 ft above ground level) and it appeared to be tracking to a mid to late downwind position for a landing on runway 24. The aircraft did not land at the aerodrome at the expected arrival time and a search was commenced.

The wreckage was located about 4 km east of the aerodrome. An examination of the wreckage indicated that the aircraft impacted the ground inverted in a steep nose-down attitude. The accident was not survivable. The wreckage was consistent with a loss of control situation, but the likely reason for the loss of control could not be determined.

Although not related to the accident, during the course of the investigation it was identified that AusSAR had initially cancelled the uncertainty phase associated with the aircraft. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority within which AusSAR is located, has advised that it is planning to review some aspects of its search and rescue procedures.

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