Update: Search for missing helicopter pilot off Port Hedland
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has been conducting a search about 35 kilometres north of Port Hedland in Western Australia today after receiving an initial report that a helicopter had crashed into the water just before midnight AWST.
The EC-135 helicopter, which had two people on board, was on its way to the bulk carrier MV Squireship to collect a marine pilot.
The marine pilot on board the MV Squireship witnessed the incident and immediately notified harbour control, which in turn advised AMSA.
Around the same time, AMSA detected a distress beacon from one of the helicopter’s crew members.
Four flares were also seen in the search area shortly after the crash. Around 1.00 am AWST a pilot vessel picked up one of the helicopter’s crew members who was injured but safe in a life raft. He was taken to Port Hedland Hospital.
Seven aircraft, including AMSA’s Challenger Search and Rescue jet, four tug boats, two pilot vessels and Volunteer Marine Rescue Port Hedland joined the search for the missing helicopter pilot.
Western Australia Police (WA Police), Pilbara Ports Authority, Port Hedland Pilots, Vessel Traffic Services, Aviation Group and State Emergency Services volunteers have assisted during today's search spanning 620 square kilometres.
While debris from the helicopter has been located, there have been no sightings of the missing pilot. Any debris located by members of the public should be reported to Western Australia Police immediately.
Western Australia Police are making arrangements for a sub-surface search for the wreckage of the helicopter.
Search operations will resume at first light tomorrow.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will investigate the incident.