Four people were killed and eight injured in a midair collision involving two tour helicopters operating out of Sea World in Queensland, Australia, on Monday. According to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), the accident occurred while one helicopter was taking off and one was coming in to land. The helicopter taking off, which had seven people on board, is believed to have been in the air for less than 20 seconds. The descending helicopter, which had six on board, was able to land on a sandbar.
“We’re still determining the exact sequence of events but from the footage we’ve seen and from damage we can witness on there, it does appear that the main rotor blade of the helicopter taking off has collided with the front cockpit of the descending helicopter on the left-hand side,” said ATSB Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell. “Now exactly whether that was the first point of impact, we’re yet to determine but that in itself has led to the main rotor and the gearbox separating from [the helicopter taking off].”
The pilot and three passengers killed were all on board the helicopter taking off. The other three passengers on board are reported to be in critical condition. Five people on board the landing helicopter were hospitalized with minor injuries and one was uninjured. Both aircraft were operated by Sea World Helicopters. Salvage operations are underway and the ATSB is investigating the accident.
This article will be updated as more information becomes available.