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18 Jul

Plane safety ‘no brainer’: Qld inquest

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A Queensland skydiving boss whose plane crashed killing five people had refused to install a key safety mechanism despite it being a “no brainer” to put it in the plane, an inquest was told.
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Paul Turner, former owner-operator of Adrenalin Skydivers, oversaw workplace safety when skydiving first-timer Joey King and his fiancee Rahula Hohua were killed just after take-off from Caboolture Airfield.

Pilot Andrew Aitken and instructors Glenn Norman and Juraj Glesk also died when the Cessna 206 crashed and burst into flames north of Brisbane in March 2014.

The inquest has heard pilot seat movement may have caused the crash.

Ian Robert Colville, director of the engineering company that maintained the plane, told the inquest Mr Turner refused to have the mechanism, known as an inertia reel, installed to prevent pilot seat movement.

“(He said) it was too heavy,” Mr Colville said.

The 50-year aircraft maintenance veteran said he was surprised by that decision because not only was it free from Cessna, who was supplying the reel to all relevant plane owners, but it weighed only about one kilogram.

It was “nonsense” to worry about the weight and a “no brainer” to have it fitted, he said

Mr Colville said all the other Cessna owners his firm serviced agreed to have the device fitted, he said.

“It was at no cost to the owners, so why wouldn’t they do it?”

The upgrade wasn’t mandatory but Cessna manufacturer, Textron Aviation, had sent a directive recommending operators install the device.

Mr Turner has earlier denied he had been offered a seat stop and refused to accept it, instead claiming Cessna couldn’t supply one.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority national manager of operations and standards, Anthony Stanton, told the inquest that although skydiving operations carried fee-paying passengers on their planes, they didn’t operate under commercial aviation regulations at that time.

Instead, the n Parachuting Federation was charged with overseeing an audit system carried out, at the time of the crash, by volunteers lacking specialised aircraft knowledge and with fewer risk controls than other aviation activities, such as scenic flights.

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