Gold Coast, Australia – A preliminary investigation by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) revealed that a helicopter pilot involved in a mid-air collision on the Gold Coast had cocaine in his system. However, the level of the drug was unlikely to have affected his flying, according to the bureau’s interim report released on Tuesday.
The collision occurred on January 2, 2023, when two helicopters collided near Sea World on the Gold Coast. The pilot of one aircraft was returning to a helipad with five passengers on board after a short scenic flight. A few minutes before 2pm, a second tour helicopter took off with six passengers and collided with the other aircraft, causing it to crash onto a sandbar. This resulted in the death of the pilot and three passengers, as well as injuries to several others.
An autopsy of the deceased pilot, Ashley Jenkinson, found no evidence of significant disease, but a toxicology report indicated the presence of cocaine in his system. However, the report noted that the cocaine was unlikely to have been consumed within 24 hours of the crash and could have been taken up to four days prior.
According to the ATSB chief commissioner, Angus Mitchell, the concentration of cocaine in the pilot’s system was low and would have unlikely impaired his psychomotor skills. The bureau’s final report with comprehensive analysis and any recommended safety actions is estimated to be completed between July and September 2024.
The interim report also highlighted safety measures taken by Sea World Helicopters, including the implementation of greater air traffic control at the beachside heliport. The ATSB aims to make findings and drive safety actions to reduce the likelihood of similar accidents in the future.
In conclusion, the ATSB’s interim report revealed that the pilot involved in the mid-air collision on the Gold Coast had cocaine in his system, but at a level unlikely to have affected his flying. The investigation is ongoing, and the ATSB is committed to implementing safety measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future.