On 9 January 2010, the pilot of a Cessna Aircraft Company A185E floatplane, registered VH-ELQ, commenced the take-off run in Tippler's Passage on a charter flight around South Stradbroke Island, Queensland (Qld), with four passengers onboard. Immediately after the aircraft's floats came out of the water, the pilot reported 'feeling something hitting and vibrating on the right float'. The pilot rejected the takeoff and landed the aircraft straight ahead. The aircraft struck a sandbank and came to rest inverted. The five occupants exited the aircraft; one passenger received minor injuries.
Shortly after, a crab pot was observed within the immediate vicinity of the aircraft. The pilot reported that it was likely that the crab pot became entangled around the aircraft's right water rudder during taxiing.
An investigation conducted by the Queensland Police Service determined that there was evidence to suggest that the crab pot had come into contact with the aircraft's float. However, where the contact was made, and for how long, was not determined. A number of differences were also identified throughout the course of the investigation relating to the wind conditions at the time of the accident, the position of the aircraft at the time of the takeoff, whether or not the takeoff was commenced into wind, and the location of the crab pots. These differences could not be reconciled.
While the aircraft occupants in this accident were able to don life jackets and exit the aircraft without difficulty, previous ATSB investigations have highlighted the challenges faced when exiting from an inverted, submerged aircraft cabin. In 2009, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority issued a Notice of Proposed Rule Making, proposing that each occupant of a seaplane taking off or landing on water must wear a life jacket. This will ensure that the availability of life jackets after the occupants have exited the aircraft into the water is assured.