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ATSB to raise crashed Pel-Air Westwind jet from ocean

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) will raise an Israel Aerospace Industries 1124A Westwind that crashed near Norfolk Island in 2009, as it re-opens an investigation which was criticised for not having recovered the aircraft's recorders.

In an update on its website, the ATSB says that it has contracted Pacific Maritime Pacific Maritime Group to assist in the recovery of the aircraft and its flight recorders, which was registered as VH-NGA and operated by Pel-Air Aviation.

“The recorders will be transported back to the ATSB headquarters in Canberra for download and analysis. The data on the ‘black boxes’ will be used to further assist the ATSB investigators understand the sequence of events of the accident,” it says.

The Westwind was on a medevac charter flight from Apia to Sydney on 18 November 2009 when it ditched into the Pacific Ocean 5 km south-west of Norfolk Island. This was after it ran out of fuel whilst attempting to divert to the island in bad weather.

In its first investigation, which closed in 2012, the ATSB concluded that poor flight planning and inadequate enroute monitoring of weather conditions were the primary causes of the accident.

That investigation was criticised during a Parliamentary enquiry, particularly as the ATSB did not attempt to recover the flight recorders on the aircraft. A subsequent review by Transport Canada of the investigation recommended reopening it, and the ATSB subsequently restarted the investigation in December 2014.

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