Authorities reveal what caused fatal NSW plane crash

A pilot who was killed alongside his son in a fiery plane crash in northern NSW made the fatal decision to fly without a licence or proper training, an investigation into the crash has revealed.

Father and son Jeffrey and Matthew Hills were killed when their Mooney M20J four-seat plane plunged into steep terrain in Dorrigo National Park on September 20, 2019.

The pair from the Gold Coast were scheduled to arrive in Taree from Murwillumbah at 8am, but they never made it.

Matthew and Jeffrey Hills were killed when their plane plunged into mountains near Coffs Harbour.
Matthew and Jeffrey Hills were killed when their plane plunged into mountains near Coffs Harbour.

An investigation from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau has revealed the final moments before the crash.

According to the report, the plane was travelling at 6500ft in poor weather conditions when it started to descend near high terrain before dropping off the radar.

The report found the plane crashed because Mr Hills made the decision to descend in a hazardous area and did not have a valid licence to fly the plane.

have proper training to fly it and because of his decision to descend. Photo: Supplied
have proper training to fly it and because of his decision to descend. Photo: Supplied

 

The wreckage left behind by the impact of the plane crash. Photo: ATSB
The wreckage left behind by the impact of the plane crash. Photo: ATSB

"This tragic accident emphasises to pilots the importance of flight preparation and of ensuring they have completed all required training and checks," according to ATSB Chief Commissioner Greg Hood.

The report also found Mr Hills was using a handheld GPS unit and not air navigation charts for the area and had "most likely" failed to check the weather forecasts for the area.

The plane was found in dense bushland near Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast.
The plane was found in dense bushland near Coffs Harbour on the NSW north coast.

"These factors reduced the pilot's ability to manage the flight path changes and identify the high terrain. This led to the aircraft being descended toward the high terrain in visibility conditions below that required for visual flight, resulting in controlled flight into terrain," said Mr Hood. 

Family members of Jeffrey and Matthew remembered the pair as "selfless and generous," saying they "lived life to the fullest."

"Jeff and Matt will be deeply missed, but we are comforted they are living in eternity with Christ their saviour," their family said.

Originally published as Authorities reveal what caused fatal NSW plane crash

The plane crashed in part because Mr Hills did not
The plane crashed in part because Mr Hills did not

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