The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has commenced a transport safety investigation into a helicopter accident near Hawks Nest, NSW.

The Robinson R66 single-engine turbine helicopter, which was reported missing on Thursday evening, was located on Saturday in waters off Yacaaba Headland, near Hawks Nest, by NSW Police with the assistance of ATSB transport safety investigators.

The ATSB has deployed a team of four transport safety investigators with expertise in aircraft operations and maintenance to the area from its Canberra and Sydney offices.

They have commenced a range of evidence-gathering activities, including examination of recovered components, interviewing involved parties and witnesses, obtaining and reviewing relevant recorded information including flight tracking data and CCTV footage, and collecting pilot and aircraft maintenance records, plus weather information.

Among the recovered items is the helicopter’s cockpit video camera, which investigators will attempt to download and analyse at the ATSB’s technical facilities in Canberra.

The ATSB currently anticipates publishing a preliminary report, which will detail factual information established during the investigation’s initial evidence collection phase, in approximately 6-8 weeks.

The ATSB will then publish a final report, detailing contributing factors and any identified safety issues, at the conclusion of the investigation.

However, should any critical safety issues be identified at any stage during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties so appropriate safety action can be taken.

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