Skydiving aircraft crash in Sweden kills all nine on board
A small plane carrying parachutists crashed in northern Sweden soon after takeoff on Sunday, 14 July 2019 and all nine people on board were killed, officials said. The accident took place a little after 14h00 local time on Storsandskar island. Swedish media quoted witnesses reporting that some of the parachutists were seen trying to jump off the plane just before the crash. Swedish airport authority Swedavia said the crashed aircraft was a GippsAero GA8 Airvan, an Australian-made single-engine plane popular with parachutists that took off from Umea airport. The cause of the crash was not yet known. “I can confirm that all those aboard the plane have died,” said Vasterbotten municipality spokeswoman Gabriella Bandling.
One witness told Swedish broadcaster SVT she heard a loud noise from above before she saw the plane going straight down and crashing into the island.
The Swedish prime minister, Stefan Lofven, expressed “great sadness” over the accident in a statement to Swedish news agency TT. He sent condolences to the families of the victims and said the government would stay in close touch with officials probing the crash “as it is important to investigate the cause”.
Australian authorities will assist with the Swedish investigation into the crash, due to the involvement of a Victorian-made aircraft. The cause of the crash has not been determined, and the Swedish Accident Investigation Authority has requested assistance from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB). It is understood the ATSB will be an accredited representative to the investigation, and act as a conduit between the Swedish investigators and the Australian manufacturer, Gippsland Aeronautics.
The GA-8 has a sound safety record in Australia, operating fatality-free since 2008 when a plane crashed on the eastern side of the Napier Peninsula in the Northern Territory, killing the pilot. His body and the main wreckage of the aircraft were never found.
Since then, the ATSB has investigated 15 incidents and accidents involving the GippsAero GA-8 but none were found to be related to design issues.
Organisational development manager at GippsAero, Lloyd Clarke, said they stood ready to support the Swedish Government and Swedish authorities in their investigation. “As yet no request has been made,” Mr Clarke said, adding that he was deeply saddened by the loss of lives.
Based in Victoria’s LaTrobe Valley, GippsAero is owned by Indian conglomerate Mahindra Aerospace. The Australian arm employs 110 people and has produced about 260 GA-8 Airvans, 240 of which remain in operation around the world.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority is monitoring the investigation.
Source: The Guardian