Search for missing pilot suspended
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has been coordinating the search for a missing pilot whose helicopter crashed into the ocean south of Cape Tribulation shortly before 8.00 pm on Thursday night.
A passenger of the helicopter managed to escape the wreckage and swim to shore where nearby campers assisted him in calling for help.
The passenger reported that the helicopter had crashed into the ocean offshore of Noah Beach in the Cape Tribulation National Park.
A search and rescue operation was initiated by Queensland Police with a number of surface assets. AMSA provided a rescue helicopter with night vision capabilities to conduct an aerial search overnight.
Coordination for the search and rescue was transferred to AMSA on Friday morning.
AMSA tasked two helicopters, Rescue 510 a Queensland EMS helicopter from Cairns, and a private helicopter from the nearby area to conduct an aerial search of the reported crash site.
Two commercial vessels, a Cairns Water Police vessel and the Port Douglas Volunteer Marine Rescue vessel were involved in a surface search.
A team of Royal Australian Navy divers arrived at the search area this afternoon but were unable to conduct an underwater search due to adverse sea conditions.
About 3.00 pm a Police ground party discovered items washed up on the nearby beach including a seat cushion consistent with a cushion from the missing helicopter.
Following expert medical advice indicating that the chance of survival expired at last light today, the search and rescue operation has now been suspended.
Queensland Police and the Navy divers will return to the search area at first light tomorrow in an attempt to locate the wreckage of the helicopter. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will also conduct an investigation into the crash.
AMSA wishes to thank all those involved in the search and rescue operation and extends our sympathies to the family and friends of the missing pilot.