Aviation safety investigations & reports

Technical assistance to the NSW Coroner relating to accident involving Cessna C172L, VH-XZZ, on 21 March 2016

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


On 21 March 2016, a Cessna 172L, registered VH-XZZ, disappeared from radar about 7 NM (13 km) north-east of Byron Bay, New South Wales (NSW). The pilot was the sole occupant and, despite initial search efforts, the aircraft was reported as missing.

The accident is being investigated by the NSW Police Force on behalf of the NSW Coroner. The ATSB did not initiate a separate accident investigation; however, on 14 June 2016, the police advised the ATSB that the wreckage had been located and video recorded by the Royal Australian Navy. In addition, the police requested ATSB assistance with their examination the video footage of the wreckage.

To facilitate this support, on 15 June 2016 the ATSB initiated an external investigation under the provisions of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003. The ATSB completed its review of the video footage and provided a report to the NSW Police Force on 30 August 2016.

Any enquiries as to the planning for, or conduct or progress of the Coroner’s investigation into this accident should be directed to the:

State Coroner’s Court of New South Wales
44–46 Parramatta Road
Glebe  NSW  2037

Phone: (02) 8584 7777


The information contained in this web update is released in accordance with section 25 of the Transport Safety Investigation Act 2003.

General details
Date: 21 March 2016   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 16:30 ESuT   Investigation level: Defined - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): 13 km north-east of Byron Bay    
State: New South Wales   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 14 February 2017   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Cessna Aircraft Company  
Aircraft model 172L  
Aircraft registration VH-XZZ  
Type of operation Private  
Sector Piston  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Last update 14 November 2018