CIVIL Aviation authorities yesterday confirmed that an Australian pilot and his two Papua New Guinea passengers were killed on Monday in the helicopter crash in the Bulolo district of Morobe province, The National reports.
Head of the Accident Investigation Commission David Inau said the helicopter, P2-RUH (pictured above before the crash) owned by Manolos Aviation, was flown by Peter Waters when it disappeared between the Wafi mine site and Mumeng while returning to Lae.
Inau said another helicopter spotted the wreckage that afternoon but bad weather prevented anyone from reaching the crash site, 5km south of Timini.
He said that on Wednesday, members of the Porgera mine's air rescue team were dropped in by helicopter and confirmed that there were no survivors.
Waters was in his 70s.
Also on board were two local G4S security guards.
Inau said Waters was an experienced pilot and a friend.
"Yeah I know him very well," he told Radio Australia yesterday said.
"We've flown together for many, many years here in PNG."
Inau said investigators arrived at the crash site yesterday morning and retrieved the three bodies with the help of local villagers.
The bodies were brought to Lae.
Villagers in the area had no idea that an aircraft had crashed nearby until notified by a search team.
They then led the team to the crash site.
Manolos Aviation and G4S could not be contacted for comments.
Civil Aviation Minister Puri Ruing sent his condolence to the families of the three dead people, saying that Inau's investigation team would be providing an interim report within 28 days.
"The investigation commenced shortly after the accident occurred and the on site component of the investigation will continue for several days," he said.