Seaplane tragedy: 11-year-old visiting with family among the dead
Police have named the six people who died in the Hawkesberry sea plane tragedy on News Years Eve.
The pilot of the Sydney Seaplanes' aircraft has been identified as 44-year-old Gareth Morgan who police today described as "an experienced seaplane pilot".
The passengers were Richard Cousins, 58, and his fiance Emma Bowden, 48. Emma's daughter Heather, aged 11, and Richard's sons Edward and William Cousins, aged 23 and 25.
The family where on holiday from Britain.
A PLANE has crashed on the Hawkesbury River in Sydney's north with all six passengers confirmed dead. Police divers are on the scene and all six bodies have now been recovered from the wreckage.
The seaplane crashed at Cowan Creek in Sydney's north at 3.15pm on Sunday.
Acting Superintendent Michael Gorman confirmed the pilot and five passengers aboard the plane were deceased.
"Information to date is that at approximately 3.10pm, a sea plane was flying west over the Hawkesbury River. For reasons that are not known at this stage, the plane has hit the water and it has subsequently sunk," he said during a press conference at Apple Tree Bay.
"We can confirm the six people on the plane are deceased."
Police have retrieved three bodies from the water at Apple Tree Wharf, however divers are still working on locating the other three people.
Marine Area Command and the police Air Wing investigators are en route to the scene.
The plane has not yet been retrieved and is currently sitting in 13m of water.
"It's about recovering the bodies, seeing if we are able to recover the plane tonight or whether it will stay until tomorrow morning, working with the sea plane company to confirm the identities of those on board and then obviously letting their relatives and next of kin know," Supt Gorman said.
"Then in the coming days, determine the cause of the crash."
"There were a number of boats in the area when the plane crashed. I know police have spoken to a number of people who witnessed the incident but would again encourage anyone who hasn't been spoken to by police to contact either the Marine Area Command or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000
"Also if people have any footage in this day of social media … we would be very interested to see any footage people may have taken of the plane prior to or at the time it crashed into the water."
An oil slick and debris were spotted on the surface of the water following the crash.
Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter were sent to the area and police divers had joined the search for the vessel and all the passengers.
Three Marine Rescue vessels also responded to the incident.
A Sydney Seaplane spokesman confirmed that it was one of their aircraft that had crashed but couldn't provide any further information.
"Obviously we are very concerned and trying to determine the details at this point. We are working with police at this time," he said.
Dozens of A-list celebrities have taken to the skies on-board Sydney Seaplanes to take in the breathtaking sights of the city and dine in the picturesque waterside restaurants on the Hawkesbury River and Palm Beach.
From royal sister-in-law Pippa Middleton to TV host Jeremy Clarkson, an A-lister's favourite thing to do in Sydney is lunch at top peninsula restaurants Jonah's at Whale Beach, or the Cottage Point Inn, via Sydney Seaplanes.
Pop stars Sam Smith, Ed Sheeran, Ronan Keating and his wife Storm are also among celebs who have flown out on the trip.
Jerry Seinfeld, Ed Sheeran, Bill Gates and Sam Smith have also had a taste of the premier "fly and dine" experience.
Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr, 49, chose the sea planes as his favourite mode of transport while in Sydney early this month to film commercials for Optus.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said it will be "investigating the ditching of a single-engine seaplane which crashed at Cowan Creek, Hawkesbury River, NSW this afternoon".
"Preliminary facts and circumstances as they are believed to be as at 6pm on 31 December 2017:
About 3pm, a DHC-2 Beaver Seaplane, VH-NOO, operated by Sydney Seaplanes was flying in the vicinity of Jerusalem Bay (near Cottage Point).
It is understood that there was one pilot and five passengers on the aircraft on a return flight to Rose Bay, Sydney Harbour.
The sequence of events leading up to the accident are not yet understood, however following the impact with the water, the aircraft is reported to have sunk rapidly.
There are currently no reports of survivors."
A United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said "Officials from the British Consulate are in contact with local authorities in relation to a sea plane accident near Sydney. We stand ready to provide consular assistance."
The ATSB encourages anyone who witnessed the accident to call 1800 020 616 and register their details.
Sydney Seaplanes have released a statement regarding the aircraft incident at the Hawkesbury River, 31 December 2017:
"Today there was a tragic accident involving one of Sydney Seaplanes aircraft in the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney. We have been informed by police that all six people on the flight (5 passengers and 1 pilot) have lost their lives.
"All at Sydney Seaplanes are deeply shocked by this incident and the resulting loss of life. We wish to pass on our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the passengers and pilot who were tragically killed.
"We do not yet know the cause of the accident. We are dedicating our full resources in assisting the NSW Police, the Australian Transport Safety Board, Civil Aviation Safety Authority and other relevant authorities to understand the cause of the accident.
"We have suspended all operations until further notice.
"Sydney Seaplanes has been operating since 2005, have undertaken thousands of flights in that period and have had an unblemished safety record until now. The safety of our passengers and staff is our absolute primary and highest priority. Our aircraft are professionally maintained to manufacturer's specifications and our seaplane pilots are some of the most experienced in the world."