Australia: two pilots “miraculously” survive the crash of their water bomber plane

Australia: Two pilots


Two pilots managed to 'miraculously' survive the crash and burning of their water bomber plane while battling a fire in Western Australia. 

The Boeing 737 left a long mark on the brush and tree covered landscape when it crashed while being mobilized to put out a bushfire in Fitzgerald National Park , about 420 kilometers southwest of Perth.

Aerial footage taken shortly after the crash, which occurred on Monday, showed thick black smoke billowing from the aircraft on the ground, with the rear of the fuselage consumed by flames.

Exiting the hospital the day after the accident, the two pilots were not identified, but the authorities considered that they were probably North Americans.

“It's quite miraculous that they were able to get off the plane,” Stephen Dawson, the state's emergency services minister, said at a press conference on Tuesday. 

“We are very happy that they are in good health. It's a truly remarkable ending. And that probably speaks to their skill as pilots.”

The large water bomber plane, a converted passenger plane, hit the ground just 20 seconds after dropping an water in the area, officials said. 

An investigation has been launched by the Australian Transport Safety Board, which says it was the first “collision with the ground” involving a Boeing 737 in Australia.

“It It is remarkable that the two members of the crew managed to get out of the plane and are safe and sound”, put forward the person in charge of the Office Angus Mitchell. “A crash from a large plane is usually quite catastrophic.”

But in this accident, the plane appeared to have hit a ridge before crashing to the ground, he added. “Certainly a horizontal landing, as opposed to a vertical landing on the ground, makes a big difference.”

Investigators hope to be able to access the crash site from Wednesday, if there is is considered safe, and recover the black box, Mr. Mitchell said. 

Sixty-four accidents involving firefighting aircraft have occurred in the past five years. The security body is looking at the lessons to be learned from these incidents, he added.