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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  
Location   (show map):13 km north-east of Byron Bay Investigation type: External Investigation 
State: New South Wales Occurrence type: Collision with terrain 
Release date: 14 February 2017 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Fatal 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Cessna Aircraft Company 
Aircraft model: 172L 
Aircraft registration: VH-XZZ 
Type of operation: Private 
Sector: Piston 
Damage to aircraft: Destroyed 
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Last update 14 February 2017