Tragic seaplane had previously been 'destroyed' in a fatal crash

As authorities prepare to use a floating crane to recover the seaplane wreckage from the Hawkesbury River where six people died, it's been revealed that the plane had previously been destroyed and rebuilt following a separate fatal crash.

The plane had reportedly previously flown as a crop duster with a different registration but the same serial number when it was involved in a November 1996 crash that killed a pilot, Fairfax Media reports.

A report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's investigation into the 1996 crash claims the aircraft "cartwheeled" after its left wingtip contacted the ground.

“The driver ran down to the aircraft and found the pilot still strapped in the seat with no apparent sign of life. He moved the pilot clear of the aircraft in case of fire and then summoned help," the report states.

Authorities remove parts of the wreckage from the Hawkesbury River. Source: 7 News

The report on the 1996 crash describes the plane's condition as "destroyed". Source: Supplied

It is understood the aircraft was completely rebuilt and owned by several other businesses before being acquired by Sydney Seaplanes.

Sydney Seaplanes managing director Aaron Shaw said the company's planes are inspected daily and that the engines are replaced after every 1,100 hours of flying.

A Sydney Seaplanes spokesperson told Yahoo7 News the single engined aircraft had undertaken 19,000 flights since they acquired it in 2006.

Meanwhile, the salvage mission to retrieve the DHC-2 Beaver is expected start at dawn and run into the afternoon.

The plane is resting on its roof in about 15 metres of water, according to All Waterfront Constructions operations director Chris Kemp, who will work to recover the aircraft.

Experienced pilot Gareth Morgan died along with high-profile UK businessman Richard Cousins, his two adult sons Edward and William, his fiancee Emma Bowden and her 11-year-old daughter Heather when the plane plunged into Jerusalem Bay on December 31.

Two slings will be lowered and passed through the aircraft's cabin by police divers.

The group rushed to help after seeing the plane plunge into the river. Source: Supplied/Kurt Bratby.

NSW Police and Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigators assess the crash site. Source: AAP

"Then we'll be lifting the whole lot up and placing it on the barge," Mr Kemp said.

"One of the wings is pretty badly damaged and bent over on the plane itself, so we'll be pulling that back down and lashing it to the plane.

"We were on it the other day with the police divers and the cameras and it looks like there is still a wing intact on the fuselage."

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is working to determine why the seaplane went down. One possibility is the plane stalled.

The crash site on the Hawkesbury River. Source: 7 News

Aircraft maintenance engineer Michael Greenhill said that while it was not mandatory in Australia for Beaver planes to have stall warnings installed, most did.

"A stall is when the airflow over the aircraft's wing becomes insufficient enough to produce lift," Mr Greenhill said.

"So basically the wing stops flying."

Meanwhile tributes have poured in for Canadian pilot Gareth Morgan, with friends and former clients of the pilot sharing footage of him flying on a tribute page.

Tributes have poured in for pilot Gareth Morgan, who died in the tragic crash. Source: Sydney Seaplanes

"I had the pleasure of working with Gareth, he was genuine and hard working. I am shocked and saddened by the news," Will Boucher wrote on the page.

"He was one of the pilots that definitely strived to make a difference and his presence was felt."

"To a wonderful, gentle and humble man who I was very lucky to call an old friend and teammate," Jay French added.

"Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the Morgan Family and all others involved during this difficult time. Will miss you mate!"

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