Stall warning 'may not have saved' plane

January 03, 2018

Investigators hope to recover a seaplane which crashed north of Sydney killing six people.

Investigators are set to recover a seaplane that crashed into a river north of Sydney on New Year's Eve killing five British tourists and the Canadian pilot.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigators have been working with police divers at the crash site on the Hawkesbury River to determine how best to recover the wreckage from a depth of 13 metres.

A crane or airbags could be used to refloat the plane with recovery efforts to begin on Thursday morning.

"The operation is due to begin at 6am and the wreckage is expected to be recovered from the water about 12pm," NSW Police said in a statement on Wednesday.

Water police including specialist divers will conduct the operation.

Investigators hope data will be recovered from the plane's avionics instruments. Smartphones or cameras on board could also be used to piece together the final moments before the plane hit the water and sank.

The same model of a DHC-2 Beaver plane was involved in a crash in Canada in August 2015 after it stalled following a steep turn, killing a British family and the plane's pilot.

Following that crash, an investigation report published in September 2017 recommended Canadian authorities consider making stall warning devices mandatory in all DHC-2 planes.

However, since the report was released, only four Beavers have had the warning devices installed, AAP understands.

ATSB investigators say it's too early to speculate on the cause of the Hawkesbury River crash. All aspects of the aircraft - from its mechanics to its history - will be examined closely.

Police divers worked until nightfall on Sunday to recover the bodies of the six people killed when the Sydney Seaplanes aircraft plunged into Jerusalem Bay.

Experienced pilot Gareth Morgan, 44, died along with his passengers: high-profile UK businessman Richard Cousins, 58, his sons, Edward and William Cousins, aged 23 and 25, Mr Cousins' fiancee Emma Bowden, 48, and her daughter, Heather Bowden-Page aged 11.

A group of friends who witnessed the smash rushed to the scene and dived in as the badly damaged plane began sinking, nose down, into the river.

Will McGovern said fuel was spilling out, hampering their efforts to reach the seaplane.

The men attempted to tie the plane's tail to their dinghy to pull it to shore but it was too heavy.

Former British MP Gerry Bowden, whose daughter and granddaughter were among those killed, said his family was "devastated".

"Gerry Bowden and all his family are devastated by the loss of dear Emma and dear Heather who spread happiness and joy among all they met throughout their lives," the family said in a statement to London's The Telegraph.

"We were looking forward to the wedding in the (northern hemisphere) summer. Emma and Richard were so obviously in love and looking forward to a life together."

Sydney Seaplanes has suspended all flights indefinitely following the tragedy.

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