Elderly men killed as plane goes down
TWO men have been killed when their light plane went down in a cornfield near the Mareeba airport.
They were the pilot, a 73-year-old Cooktown man, and his passenger, a 63-year-old from Stuart. Both men died at the scene.
Police will prepare a report for the coroner. Investigators from the Forensic Crash Unit want to speak to anyone who saw the crash or heard the plane prior to it hitting the ground.
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EARLIER: Two people have been killed after a light plane crashed into the earth near the Mareeba Aerodrome this morning - and crash experts are on their way to investigate the wreckage.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has launched an investigation into the double fatal crash of an Angel Aircraft Corporation Model 44 Angel twin-engine light plane, registration VH-IAZ.
The plane belongs to Anju Azul Aviation Pty Ltd, which has a registered address in Cooktown.
The Cairns Post understands the company runs Cape Air Transport - the Torres Strait's longest-running air taxi service.
Cape Air Transport is based on Horn Island and has been operating since 1997.
Attempts to contact the company have failed so far.
The aircraft was first registered in 2010, but only changed to its new owner's hands in March this year.
"A team of transport safety investigators with experience in aircraft operations, aircraft maintenance and data recovery from the ATSB's Brisbane and Canberra offices is preparing to deploy to Mareeba to examine the wreckage and accident site," the ATSB said in a statement.
"As part of the investigation, ATSB investigatorswill also interview any witnesses, review aircraft and pilot records and weather information, and conduct data recovery.
"Any witnesses who may have seen the accident are asked to contact the ATSB via our website www.atsb.gov.au/witness or by calling 1800 992 986."
A report will be released at the end of the investigation.
"Should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant stakeholders so appropriate and timely safety action can be taken," the ATSB statement continued.
EARLIER 12PM: Firefighters and paramedics have rushed to an area near the Mareeba Aerodrome following a plane crash with initial reports of multiple casualties.
A Queensland Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman confirmed firefighters had arrived on scene about 11.30am.
They were providing assistance and first-aid where possible.
The Cairns Post understands the plane crashed into a paddock at the western end of the airport.
#Mareeba - Paramedics are on scene at a serious aircraft incident reported at 11.20am.— Queensland Ambulance (@QldAmbulance) December 14, 2019
It is not yet clear what type of plane has come down.
Mareeba Airport is home of the North Queensland Aero Club - the region's oldest flight training school - and a favourite spot for recreational pilots.
The North Queensland Aero Club has posted on Facebook stating the crash was unrelated from its operations.
"The NQAC is aware there has been a serious accident at the Mareeba Aerodrome," the post said.
"This does not involve North Queensland Aero Club operations in any way.
"Our thoughts go out to those involved."
Mareeba Shire Council Mayor Tom Gilmore drove out to the site but met a police roadblock.
"The whole thing is locked down where the accident occurred," he said.
A spokeswoman for the Queensland Ambulance Service confirmed the rescue helicopter remained on scene at 12.50pm to assess two critically injured patients.
It follows a separate light plane crash at the Atherton Aerodrome on Sunday.
The aircraft was found on its side at the airport, however it was understood the patient - who was rushed to hospital before an ambulance crew arrived at the scene - did not suffer any serious nor life threatening injuries.