Police have begun an operation to recover the wreckage of the seaplane that crashed and sank into the Hawkesbury River on New Year’s Eve killing all six people on board.
A leading British CEO, his two sons, his fiancee and her 11-year-old daughter died, along with the pilot, when the charter plane, returning from an upmarket restaurant, dived into the river, north of Sydney.
The retrieval of the aircraft, which involves specialist police divers, began at 6:00am and it is expected to be complete by the afternoon.
It is expected to be submerged about 13 metres below the surface.
Divers and investigators have arrived at the crash scene where a crane will pull the plane from the waters.
One or two divers will use surface supply hoses that will give them air and communication with the boat above and inflate lift bags that will be used to raise the plane to the surface.
The National Parks and Wildlife Service have brought pollution booms to make sure no oil or petrol leaks out as the plane is lifted.
Police are also hoping to find mobile phones and other digital data from the plane that could help them determine the cause of the crash.
If the operation is successful, the wreckage will be taken to Rowland Reserve, Bayview.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said on Tuesday they expected to use inflatable air bags and cranes to recover the plane, keeping it as intact as possible.
The ATSB are still investigating what happened in the final moments but said there was no evidence of any systemic problems with the de Haviland DHC-2 Beaver.
The plane, which was 55 years old, had only recently had its engine rebuilt.
Sinking plane witnessed by many
Witnesses to the crash made desperate attempts to help the passengers of the seaplane as it sank into the river, risking their lives by diving into water heavy with aviation fuel.
The crash was witnessed by many people boating in the area, including four men on a houseboat who were on the scene within a minute of the plane crashing into Jerusalem Bay.
The men repeatedly dived into the water in a bid to open the door of the plane, but it was so deep every time they made it down they ran out of breath.
There was also an unsuccessful attempt to tow the plane to the riverbank using a rope and small boat.