The helicopter disaster at Sea World that killed four and left two youngsters fighting for their lives, according to an aviation expert, should never have occurred.
Nicholas Tadros, 10, and Leon de Silva, 9, are both clinging to life at the Queensland Children’s Hospital after sustaining life-threatening injuries in Monday’s disaster in Southport, Gold Coast.
Leon is in a coma and has a cracked skull, whereas Nicholas has been placed on life support and is in critical condition.
Nicholas’ 36-year-old mother Vanessa Tadros, along with British newlyweds Ron Hughes, 65, and Diane Hughes, 57, and pilot Ash Jenkinson, 40, perished in the disaster.
Winnie, the mother of Leon, was also evacuated to the hospital with severe fractures after their helicopter collided with another and crashed to the ground.
Geoffrey Thomas, an aviation expert, is persuaded that something unexpected occurred in one or both cockpits to distract the pilots from scanning for danger.
Vanessa Tadros (left) was killed instantly in the helicopter crash, while her son Nicholas (right) is in critical condition in the hospital.
He stated that the pilots must have been distracted by something.
We have no idea what triggered that.
‘Whether it was an engine warning light that caused the pilot to lose concentration or a medical emergency that caused a passenger to lurch forward onto the controls.
‘It is conjecture, but I am certain that something has occurred to distract one or both of the pilots, or that there has been a tragic misunderstanding between them.
These are both excellent pilots operating excellent helicopters for an excellent firm. This is not a cow-stealing scheme.
This should have never occurred.
How the tragedy occurred in under 20 seconds
On the sandbank, the two helicopters engaged in the accident can be seen, with one slamming into the sand and the other landing upright and safely.
The two Eurocopter EC130s, which Sea World Helicopters of the Gold Coast had just leased in November, collided shortly after one took off.
Twenty seconds after leaving the Sea World helipad, Mr. Jenkinson’s aircraft climbed directly into the flight path of the second helicopter, operated by 52-year-old Michael James.
The rotor blades of the lower helicopter ripped through the cockpit of the second helicopter, showering the pilot and passengers with shattered glass and metal fragments.
Wednesday, from her hospital bed, Ms. de Silva, who was in the lower chopper, stated that she heard a ‘big bang’ and felt’shaking’ as the two helicopters collided.
“I could see the pilot anxiously tapping all these buttons; he had no idea what to do.” Ms. de Silva told the Herald Sun, “After that, I don’t recall much, but everyone was trembling and anxious.”
As the Eurocopter EC130 began its descent into the ground, she gripped her son’s hand as tightly as possible.
“The only thing I could see in my eyes was death. I didn’t want to witness death, so I closed my eyes and kept my son’s hand by my side,’ she said.
Ms. de Silva (shown with her son Leon), who was in the lower chopper, stated from her hospital bed on Wednesday that she heard a ‘big bang’ and felt’shaking’ as the two helicopters collided.
Leon de Silva, age 9, is in an induced coma due to a fractured skull. Winnie, his mother, is suffering from two broken legs, a fractured right shoulder, a shattered collarbone, and a damaged left knee.
She recalls opening her eyes when she was entangled in the debris.
My right foot and arm were jammed. I recall crying and yelling for assistance… I was unable to escape,’ claimed Ms. de Silva.
Her husband Neil de Silva, who took them to the joyride and waved his wife and stepson off, stated that he had no idea why the two helicopters were so close to one another in the first place.
He and other families devastated by the tragedy are now demanding answers as the Australian Transport Safety Bureau conducts its investigation.
Moments before contact, a passenger in the back of Mr. James’ helicopter repeatedly taps him on the shoulder with increasing urgency in an attempt to warn him of a coming lower aircraft, as shown on a cockpit-mounted video.
The interior of the higher-positioned aircraft is captured on film before to the accident (pictured)
Following the disaster, Gold Coast pilot Ash Jenkinson is recognized as a hero for his efforts during the flood crisis to deliver help and rescue individuals who were trapped.
Vanessa Tadros, who perished in the helicopter crash, is seen with her husband Simon as their 10-year-old son Nicholas struggles for his life in the hospital.
Moments later, the glass front of the helicopter’s cockpit shatters upon impact with the other aircraft’s blades.
The hit tore the rotor unit and gearbox from Mr. Jenkinson’s aircraft, causing it to spin out of control and crash onto the sandbar below.
Unbelievably, the other pilot was able to maintain control of his aircraft despite substantial damage to the front of the fuselage and shrapnel penetrating his cockpit.
His prompt actions saved the lives of his five passengers, four of whom sustained wounded from glass fragments.
Two New Zealand couples in their forties – Riaan and Elmarie Steenberg and Marle and Edward Swart – were traveling together, along with an unidentified West Australian woman.
A second video has Mr. James, following the miraculous landing, racing to the other helicopter and assisting the occupants by offering witnesses a knife to cut them free from their seatbelts.
Michael James, the pilot of the second helicopter, is captured on camera assisting in the extrication of people from the wreckage of the first helicopter.
The Air Transport Safety Bureau has begun its investigation into the disaster and pledged to examine all potential reasons of the incident.
The hit tore the rotor unit and gearbox from pilot Ash Jenkinson’s aircraft, causing it to tumble out of control and crash onto the sandbar below.
Mr. Thomas stated that the occurrence is puzzling.
He stated, “This is uncontrolled airspace, sometimes known as G-Class airspace.” They would have maintained continual radio contact and eye contact with one another.
It is a very professional enterprise.
According to Airservices Australia, which regulates Australian airspace, G-Class airspace is not governed by central air traffic control; nonetheless, regular radio contact is typically necessary near heliports and aerodromes.
Concerns remain regarding the rules in place at Sea World Helicopters that permitted two aircraft, believed to be equipped with GPS locating systems, to take off and land so close together.
The Air Transport Safety Bureau has begun its inquiry into the disaster and pledged to examine all potential reasons.
Angus Mitchell, chief commissioner of the ATSB, stated, “We now have the laborious task of attempting to reconstruct exactly what transpired before to this”
We are aware that the takeoff and landing phases of any aircraft operation are key periods of flight during which the cognitive workload of pilots is at its peak.
Ash Jenkinson, 40, the principal pilot of Sea World Helicopters, perished in the helicopter crash (pictured with his wife, Kosha)
British newlyweds Ron Hughes, 65, and Diane Hughes, 57, were tragically murdered in the crash.
What we need to know at this moment is what transpired inside those two cockpits.
The next step for the ATSB is to gather as much information and proof as possible.
Statements from people on board the helicopters who survived will be vital to the investigation, but the ATSB director admitted that gathering these statements may be delayed while they recuperate from the disaster.
Mr. Mitchell stated, “We will interview as many local residents as necessary.”
“From bystanders to those aboard the helicopter who survived, it is certainly a very terrible day for a great number of individuals, especially those who were directly engaged,” the official said.
40 YEARS OF SEA WORLD HELICOPTERS’ “IMPECCABLE SAFETY”
Sea World Helicopters is a separate subsidiary of the amusement park near the world-famous Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, and has been operating for more than 40 years.
It opened Australia’s largest privately-owned multimillion-dollar helicopter port overlooking Broadwater in November of 2019.
It boasted about its “impeccable” safety record, which it credited to “skilled pilots and careful maintenance procedures.”
Before Covid entered the tourism industry, the terminal served up to 600 passengers per day, offering beautiful flights of five minutes or 30-minute excursions to hinterland waterfalls and coastal beaches.
Following the outbreak, the company began offering visits to area wineries.
Chief pilot Ash Jenkinson, 40, who was killed in the accident, stated that the flights provided vacationers a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Who wouldn’t like to take a day excursion with a helicopter to numerous wineries? He stated 2021.
The Gold Coast is so well-known for its golden sands and beach lifestyle that it is easy to overlook the gorgeous Hinterland rainforests and large flyable waterfalls that are only a five-minute flight inland.
It is something that our guests will remember for the rest of their lives and one of my favorite sites in Australia.
If you haven’t seen the Gold Coast from above, you’re losing out.
The easy journey up and down the coast, past the huge buildings and above the water, is something that cannot be comprehended from the ground.