Sea World helicopters 'had unusual quirk that could hold key detail behind crash'

Investigators are looking into whether the helicopter crash which killed four people on Australia’s Gold Coast happened because a pilot’s view was blocked by sightseers. Sea World Helicopters had been using the high end Eurobus EC130 choppers since November, to supplement their older Squirrel 350s.


But, unlike most helicopters, the seating arrangement in the EC130s has the pilot sitting in the left-hand seat, with two passengers on their right.

This set up means the view for chief pilot Ash Jenkinson would have been restricted where the second aircraft was flying towards him. 

Mail Online reports that the Gold Coast company’s two other Squirrel aircraft have the more traditional right-hand seat controls. 

Air Transport Safety Bureau chief commissioner Angus Mitchell revealed the pilots’ view will be part of the inquiry into the cause of the crash.

He said: “We have a reasonable understanding of what the two helicopters were doing in those critical phases of flight.

“But exactly why this occurred, what was the range of visibility from both the pilots, what was happening in the cabins at the time – they’re the things that will help us piece together potentially what may have been a contributing factor here.”

Four people were killed in the helicopter crash, including married couple Diane and Ron Hughes from Liverpool.

They married in 2021 and their families have said they are “heartbroken” and are still trying to get in contact with other family members and friends to let them know.

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Just 20 seconds later, his helicopter rose into the flightpath of the second aircraft. As it did so its rotor blades sliced into the other aircraft’s cabin and ripped its own rotor unit and gearbox off.

Mr Jenkinson’s aircraft spun out of control, flipped upside down and hurtled down on to the ground and smahed into the sandbar below at around 2pm on Monday.

Three of the other passengers on board – Ms Tadros’s 10-year-old son Nicholas, Geelong mother Winnie de Silva, 33, and her son Leon, 9 – are being treated in hospital.