Safety authorites will inspect the plane on Friday, which is still in the Swan River. Photo: Channel 7 The 1948-built twin engine seaplane was Mr Lynch’s pride and joy, a craft he referred to as the ‘family caravan’. Photo: Facebook
Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Brown paid tribute to the victims and praised emergency services. Photo: ABC News 24
A plane that crashed into the Swan River as part of Australia Day celebrations in Perth on Thursday will remain in the water until the Australian Transport and Safety Bureau inspects it.
Peter Lynch, 52, and his female passenger Endah Aricakrawati, 30, died when his Grumman Mallard seaplane crashed into the river about 5pm, in front of thousands of people who had gathered for the annual Australia Day fireworks display.
The plane broke up on impact and a handful of pleasure craft nearby on the river, as well as emergency services, sped to the scene near Heirisson Island and tried in vain to rescue the occupants.
“People around me were screaming out and turning their heads,” acting Police Commissioner Stephen Brown told Radio 6PR on Friday.
“The plane was in the water .. within seconds the emergency services were there.
“Behind the police you see on the ground there are hundreds of senior people at Maylands police complex managing the events, the highest calibre people from all agencies, and they served us really well yesterday.
“But despite these amazing efforts they were unable to save Peter and Endah.”
The seaplane remains in situ, under water police guard.
The aviation fuel in the river has now dissipated, according to the acting Commissioner, who said comprehensive investigations would begin once the plane was extracted from the water within the next 24 hours.
“WA Police would conduct a coronial investigation and the ATSB would complete its own investigation,” he said.
“There would be a lot of work to do on the remains of the plane and it could take up to six months for the results to be known. Until then to speculate was pointless.
“I’d hope we have that out in the next 24 to 48 hours, but as you’d imagine it’s quite a logistical exercise.
“We might need to special equipment to be able to extract it without causing damage to the aircraft, because we don’t want to do that, we want it to come out as pristine as it can and we want to be able to recover all of the parts.”
The City of Perth cancelled the skyshow out of respect for the families of the deceased and to “conserve the integrity of the site”.
The commissioner said the 1000 or so police officers deployed to the foreshores were instrumental in informing the estimated 60,000 people who had already gathered about what was happening, as the news was simultaneously broadcast on social and traditional media.
Thankfully the bulk of the expected crowd of 300,000 had not yet turned up, with the mercury having risen to 41 degrees on Thursday and still remaining high late into the afternoon.
Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi said the skyshow would not be rescheduled because the logistics were too difficult for an event of this scale, particularly given the sellout Big Bash League final at the WACA on Saturday and Chinese New Year celebrations were also scheduled.
She said the city would work on claiming losses against insurance and that the incident would not affect the future of the event, although future aerial displays will be reviewed in light of the investigation outcomes.
“While we say $1.9 million for the event, a lot of that is the logistical preparation and road closures and setup. The actual firework costs I am told is $450,000,” Ms Scaffidi said.
“A lot of those are reusable. How they will be reused at this time I cannot say. We are still working through the detail.”
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