The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has commenced a transport safety investigation into Friday morning’s ditching of a Cessna 421 Golden Eagle twin piston-engined light aircraft. 

The aircraft was conducting a ferry flight from Sunshine Coast Airport to Pago Pago, American Samoa, with two pilots on board. The crew reported engine issues to air traffic control and an intent to return the aircraft to Sunshine Coast. During the return, the aircraft was unable to maintain altitude and the crew ditched the aircraft onto the ocean, about 50 km from the coast.  

The two crew exited the aircraft into a life raft and were winched aboard a rescue helicopter, while the aircraft was observed beginning to sink. 

The investigation will seek to determine the nature of the technical issues encountered by the aircraft and to explore and share potential safety learnings from the aircraft’s ditching. 

ATSB investigators have commenced early evidence collection and assessment activities to inform the scope of investigation. 

Investigators will interview the crew and first responders, download and analyse flight tracking data, and obtain and review pilot, operator and aircraft maintenance records.  

The ATSB will release a report at the conclusion of the investigation, detailing findings. However, should a critical safety issue be identified at any time during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties, so that appropriate safety action can be taken.

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