The 2011 crash scene.
The 2011 crash scene.

Fatal CQ helicopter crash under probe by coroner

AN INQUEST into the deaths of two men who died in a helicopter crash in the Shoalwater Bay Military Training Area on September 8, 2011 will begin next month.

Hadyn Jonathan Redfern and Wayne Patrick Schofield were killed when the six-seater AS350 Squirrel they were travelling in plunged into dense vegetation deep in the training area between Rockhampton and Mackay.

Mr Redfern, from Cairns, was at the controls of the chopper when it crashed and is believed to have been killed instantly when it came to rest upside down in mountainous terrain.

Map of the crash scene
Map of the crash scene The Morning Bulletin

Front seat passenger Wayne Schofield, of Canberra, also died but another man sitting in the back of the aircraft, 55-year-old Ken Purbrick also from Canberra, survived and spent hours trapped in the wreckage awaiting rescue. Mr Purbrick, who suffered a crushed shoulder, called the authorities after managing to cut himself free with a knife.

Mr Redfern worked for the Cairns based company Heli Charters while Mr Schofield was a senior consultant for PS Management Consultants and provided services to a range of defence projects.

Mr Schofield and Mr Purbrick were carrying out routine maintenance inspections on communications towers, under contract from the Department of Defence, when the crash occurred.

A Coroners Court of Queensland pre inquest conference will be held in Court 3 at Mackay on November 1 at 11am under Coroner David O'Connell.

The issues to be considered during the inquest will include whether the collision with terrain by Eurocopter helicopter VH-RDU was caused by, or contributed to by the failure of the aircraft's hydraulic pump drive belt or any other mechanical or technical fault in the aircraft.

It will also probe whether the collision was caused by or contributed to by pilot error or adverse weather and whether Mr Redfern's experience was adequate to the flight tasked to him.

Other factors considered will be whether any feature of the helicopter landing site at Double Mountain South was a contributing factor to the collision and what preventative measures, if any, relating to remote mountaintop landing sites, as to assessed or demonstrated pilot experience can be implemented in order to prevent fatal events in the future or reduce the risk of re-occurrence of any event or state of affairs which may have contributed to the deaths.



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