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The tragic Canley Vale accident fades slowly from the public memory, the highly criticised ATSB report gathers dust and hope of the mooted Senate inquiry into the event becomes a faint, distant memory as the endless wait for the Coroners inquest stretches from far away to infinity.
There has been one inquest; that into the death of flight nurse Kathy Sheppard, which for the coroner at least was ‘straight forward’.  But the delayed inquest into the death of Andy Wilson does not seem to appear on radar.  The wait must be living hell for the family, the Feb 15 article by Rory Callinan (courtesy SMH) reveals some of a fathers frustration and anger; it has also caused anxiety and concern to those who are still waiting to be called as witness.

PAIN has received several letters from people genuinely concerned, folks without a dog in the fight; just sympathy for the family and a desire to ensure that everything that can be done, is done, properly, openly and honestly in a timely manner.

Quote:I write in regard to the Canley Vale plane crash of 2010.  I had been waiting for quite some time to be called as a witness to the Coronial inquest into the deaths of Andrew Wilson and Kathy Sheppard.  I had been advised that I would be contacted to present my version of events as to what I saw that day.  I have never been contacted and now I read that the Coronial Inquest was held in August 2015 and it’s all over.

I’ve just Googled the plane crash and came across your comments in regard to “nobody who made statements to the ATSB being called as witnesses.”  I can confirm that I supplied a statement to an ATSB investigator and spoke to him on either 2 or 3 occasions in total.  I also supplied a statement to the Police and they informed me that at a time closer to the Coronial Inquest they would be back in touch with me as they wished to take a video of the flight path to present as part of the Inquest and that I would be called as a witness.  That was the last I have ever heard from anyone on the subject.  I have not been called as a witness for anything.

At the time of giving my statement to ATSB I was questioned as to whether I had plane knowledge or worked within the industry.  I don’t but I do work with spare parts and engines in the earthmoving industry.  He advised me that my use of terminology was pretty good for someone who didn’t work with planes.  I’m not blowing my own trumpet, just indicating that he understood what I was telling him and that he was happy with how I had described things.

This plane first developed engine trouble directly over the top of me.  I know what I saw and what I heard while I stood there and watched and it’s haunted me ever since.  I have the RAAF conduct pilot training over my property on a regular basis and I hear and see what they do when they shut plane engines down and re-start them.  I hear all the little noises that they make just before the engine re-starts, all the ticks and the hums, I hear the increase in the engines etc.

I could clearly hear a fuel problem that day.  With the echo of the valley, it sounded like someone sitting in front of me revving a V8 car, surging fuel over and over again.  Whether it was the fuel or a fuel related spare part, we won’t know due to the lack of evidence left after the fire.  I could hear what sounded like a crunching noise, rather like metal crackling through the system like something you would expect to hear if you had metal filings if something had let go.  While I understand at the end of the day, it’s the point of impact that they are investigating and it’s easy to point the finger at the pilot and say he handled the emergency incorrectly, if it was me I’d be pointing at what caused the emergency in the first place.

Now that I will never be called as a witness I guess I needed to get it off my chest.  I really feel for the families because I don’t think they got the correct outcome and answers.  From where I was standing, I thought Andrew handled it pretty well.  If he’d landed it at the RAAF base they’d still be here today but I gather that financial aspects of the transport industry indicate that he may have been under pressure to return to Bankstown.  The conspiracy theorist in me says the investigation and result was a cover up.

I can still see the time on the clock in the minute leading up to all this, I can still hear the change in the engine as it went over the top of me, the panic as I thought it was going to come down in front of me and trying to work out how to deal with a plane crash and two young children at the same time, I see the path the plane took as it turned around, the overwhelming noise that engine was making yet the other engine was apparently fine.  Then the noise stopped, the engine sounded fine and I thought everything would be OK.  It really upset me to hear that they didn’t make it back.

Anyway, that’s my version…..

CASA and the ATSB have much to be gained from the delay; the management of the investigation and the report provided leave much to be desired.  Many thought Pel-Air was a disgrace; I say that Canley Vale overshadows that disgusting event.  Much will depend on how the game is played in the coronial inquest, which evidence is allowed, which evidence is able to withstand testing etc.  But at the end of the day, it will that which the coroner is able to understand and assess that will win the day.  Lets hope this inquest is soon and a Senate inquiry follows rapidly afterwards.

Pel Air was not the first aberration, lets hope that Canley Vale will be the last.