The pilot of a fire-fighting plane killed yesterday was the fourth person to die in an accident involving M18 Dromaders since 2006.
The aircraft crashed on the New South Wales south coast yesterday, sparking a bushfire around the site which hindered rescue efforts.
It was making a pass over a fire to drop a load of water when it went down in rugged bushland.
When crews arrived at the scene they found the body of 43-year-old pilot, David Black, a father-of-three from central NSW.
His plane was contracted to the Rural Fire Service and was involved in fire-fighting operations when it crashed.
According to Fairfax, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau raised safety concerns about M18 model in a report released in April, following a spate of accidents.
The report found the issues arose when the plane had a takeoff weight of more than 4.2 tonnes.
“The investigation identified several safety issues indirectly arising from the operation of the M18 aircraft at increased weights.
“Though some of these issues were minor in isolation, collectively the increase in risk was more significant.”
RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons — whose own father died fighting bushfires in 2000 — became emotional as he addressed a press conference yesterday.
“we’ve suffered a huge tragedy.
“There’s a family suffering tonight, or today, because their dad has not come home.”
Police are preparing a report for the coroner and the ATSB is investigating the cause of the crash.
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