- British expat claims he had a near-death experience on a Sydney Seaplane flight
- Adrian Wakelin was on-board a seaplane when he claims it dropped 500 metres
- He claims a pilot told passengers seaplanes were known to suffer engine issues
- A Sydney Seaplane's aircraft crashed on New Year's Eve killing all six on-board
- British family-of-five and an experienced pilot were the passengers on seaplane
Published: 03:16 EST, 2 January 2018 | Updated: 04:36 EST, 2 January 2018
A British expat claims he thought he was going to die when the seaplane he was on allegedly began to fall from the sky during a scenic flight over Sydney.
Adrian Wakelin was on a flight operated by Sydney Seaplanes – the same company at the centre of the New Year's Eve tragedy which killed six people – when its propellers suddenly stopped.
The 43-year-old from Nottingham, in England's midlands, was enjoying a lavish wine and dine package with wife Louise in February, when he claims the aircraft plunged some 500 metres towards the ocean.
Speaking out in the wake of Sunday afternoon's tragedy, Mr Wakelin claims he then overheard the pilot tell another passenger the planes were known to suffer engine problems in rough or windy weather.
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Adrian Wakelin claims he was on a flight operated by Sydney Seaplanes, the same company at the centre of the New Year's Eve tragedy which killed six people, earlier this year when it began to fall from the sky
The 43-year-old British expat who was enjoying the flight with his wife Louise (pictured) said he saw his life flash before his eyes as the plane suddenly dropped close to 500 metres
The sales rep who has lived in Sydney for 18 years, alleges the plane he was in was at the time was almost identical to the one which crashed on the weekend, killing all on board.
A spokesman for Sydney Seaplanes confirmed 'significant turbulence' was logged in relation to Mr Wakelin's flight on February 12, but said no technical difficulties had been reported.
'We travelled to Hawkesbury on a similar 'fly and dine' experience and the plane we flew in was a beautiful Cessna one, but the one they brought to bring us back in was much smaller and older,'Mr Wakelin said.
'I knew the weather was changing – it was rainy and windy – so I had thought they would send a car to bring us back instead and couldn't believe it when I heard a sea plane coming back instead.
'On the flight, it was so rough two people in front of us started throwing up.
'Suddenly the engine started making funny noises, and then the plane's propellers stopped and the plane started plummeting towards the sea.
'The pilot was frantically pushing buttons and pulling levers, just going crazy. He somehow managed to start the engine again.
Mr Wakelin said the pilot told passengers seaplanes could encounter engine problems in bad weather. Sydney Seaplanes confirmed the aircraft had experienced rough conditions that day
Police remove the body of one of six people killed when a Sydney Seaplanes aircraft crashed into the water on New Year's Eve
A New South Wales policewoman is seen holding a piece of debris from the seaplane which crashed in the Hawkesbury River
'We had been level with another plane before, and when I looked up the other plane was far above us – we had been flying at about 1,000m and we dropped 500m.
'The pilot didn't say anything, but it was so surreal – we were dropping so quickly towards the ocean.
'It was certainly a near death experience, your life flashing before your eyes kind of thing.
'If it wasn't for the pilot, every passenger would have suffered a similar fate to yesterday's crash.'
Sydney Seaplanes said they were unable to confirm whether the plane Adrian flew in was the same plane which crashed.
Emma Bowden, 48, and her daughter Heather, 11, died in the horror New Year's Eve seaplane crash in the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney
Richard Cousins (right) – a millionaire CEO in charge of British catering company Compass – was on board the plane with his fiancee Ms Bowden, her daughter and his two sons
Mr Cousins' sons Edward, 23 (left) and William, 25 (right) were also killed when their seaplane plunged into the Hawkesbury River
A British family-of-five and their experienced pilot were killed when their seaplane plunged into the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney on Monday.
While the weather was calm during the weekend's tragedy, Mr Wakelin said after his horror flight the pilot had told passengers encountering trouble was common.
'As I got off the plane I heard one of the other guests ask the pilot what happened,' he said.
'He said the float in the plane's carburetor can get stuck in rough weather, starving the engine of fuel.
'I feel so guilty now that I never raised a formal complaint with the company. I just wish I had said something because I knew it was an accident waiting to happen.'
Experienced Australian pilot Gareth Morgan, 44, (pictured) was flying the plane at the time of the crash
New South Wales Police and investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau pictured on a police launch at the site where a seaplane crashed on New Year's Eve
A spokesman for Sydney Seaplanes said the safety of its people and passengers were its 'unwavering priority'.
'We require our team to report all potential safety issues. We have checked the flight manifest [for Mr Wakelin's flight] and there is a reference to significant turbulence but no reference to any technical difficulties,'a spokesperson said.
'The authorities will investigate these claims to the extent they are relevant to this week's tragedy and we will continue to fully cooperate as they do.'
Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms
The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.
The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.
All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.
It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.
British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.
The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.
The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.
It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.
“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.
“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”
The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.
It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128
Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official
Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.
The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.
Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.
Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.
“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.
“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.
Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.
Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”
However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.
Australia’s tight restrictions
The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.
Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.
A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.
Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.
Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.
Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.
Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.
The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.
While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.
Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.
In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581
Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection
The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.
Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.
Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.
It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.
The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.
Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”
“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.
“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”
Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.
Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.
For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.
Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.
A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.
Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane
Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane
At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.
When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.
Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.
While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.
But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.
And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.
And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836
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