A firefighting Boeing 737 belonging to Coulson Aviation has crashed near Ravensthorpe, Western Australia, Australia. The aircraft, registered as N619SW, was involved in an operation to fight a bushfire in the Fitzgerald River National Park.
The Boeing 737-300 departed from Busselton Regional Airport (BQB), which is over 220 kilometers (136 miles) south of Perth, Australia, at 3:32 PM local time (UTC +8). It flew for more than 40 minutes before it crashed in the Fitzgerald River National Park. According to flightradar24.com data, its last recorded altitude was 675 feet (205.7 meters) at 4:13 PM local time (UTC +8).
This was the third flight of the day for the aircraft as, up to that point, it had been ferrying between BQB, the National Park, and back again prior to the incident.
It arrived in BQB on December 13, 2022.
Local media reported that the two pilots managed to free themselves and were airlifted to nearby Ravensthorpe Airport (RVT) by a fellow firefighting helicopter.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) announced that it was launching an investigation into the incident.
“The ATSB is assembling a team of transport safety investigators from its Perth and Canberra offices with experience in aircraft operations and maintenance, human factors and data recovery to conduct the evidence collection phase of the investigation,” read the bureau’s statement. “The scope of the investigation and its timeframe will be determined as the ATSB builds its understanding of the nature of the accident,” the ATSB continued.
Meanwhile, Coulson Aviation in a statement released later on February 6, 2023, indicated that the two pilots “walked away from the accident, and have been medically assessed”.
“We are offering all the support we can to our local and international crews. We’re also grateful for the support being provided by our firefighting and aviation industry colleagues in Western Australia,” read a statement by the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Wayne Coulson.
Another Coulson Aviation firefighting aircraft, namely a Lockheed C-130, crashed in Australia in 2020. The C-130 stalled, claiming the lives of three crew members when it was fighting bushfires in New South Wales, Australia.
UPDATE February 6, 2023, 04:50 PM (UTC +3): Included a statement from Coulson Aviation.