Pilot Dead After Helicopter Crashes During Bushfire Fight
The aircraft crashed while fighting a bushfire.
A helicopter pilot who crashed while water bombing on the NSW South Coast was very experienced and meticulous with his aircraft, sources within the aviation industry have told Ten News.
The Kawasaki BK117 craft crashed at 2:10pm while fighting a bushfire that has already burned through nearly 1700 hectares at Woodstock.
The chopper had been contracted to the NSW Rural Fire Service and the pilot regularly performed this sort of work. He had also worked in New Zealand and China.
TEN News is unable to confirm the pilot’s family has been notified of the tragedy.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will conduct a full investigation but it’s believed the helicopter’s water bombing bucket may have become caught in trees, pulling the aircraft down.
Usually pilots have several ways of releasing the bucket.
The NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has tweeted that her thoughts and prayers are with the man’s family.
NSW Police said the pilot, the sole occupant, was found dead when officers arrived at a property off Kingiman Road, Woodburn, west of Ulladulla.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority told ten daily the Australian Transport Safety Bureau was investigating the crash.
A CASA spokesman said the helicopter involved was a BK117 model.
"This a tragic event and my deepest sympathies are with the pilot’s family and friends," NSW emergency services minister Troy Grant said.
Fire crews have been fighting the Kingiman blaze, around 1600 hectares in size, for several days.
The RFS said the fire is currently under control, after crews had "taken advantage of favourable conditions overnight to establish containment lines around the fire ahead of deteriorating conditions into the weekend."
The incident comes days after an RFS tanker rolled and injured four volunteers at Taree.
Numerous fires continue to burn across the state, after days of firefighting in a rare winter outbreak.