Pilot's bombshell claim in fatal Sea World helicopter crash

Four people were killed and nine others injured in the Sea World helicopter crash in January.

The surviving pilot in the Gold Coast helicopter crash that claimed four lives in January says he "does not recall" a radio call from the departing aircraft indicating its intended movements.

On Tuesday the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) released its preliminary report detailing its investigations into the Sea World helicopter crash which injured nine others.

Michael James in a bloodied white shirt and sunglasses after the crash.
Pilot Michael James pictured in the aftermath of the crash. Source: News Corp

The report said the ATSB could not determine whether or not a call was made, with pilot Michael James saying he doesn't remember any contact from pilot Ashley Jenkinson, who was killed in the crash.

"We have no recording devices on the actual helicopters,"ATSB Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell told reporters, adding a nearby tower able to record such calls is hampered by the height of surrounding buildings. "We're yet to determine what calls were made.

The two helicopters on a sandbank after the crash.
The two helicopters on a sandbank after the crash. Source: AAP

"At this stage, and as the report highlights, he does not recall hearing that taxiing call. As I said, that doesn't mean it wasn't made, but that's certainly the recollection from the pilot."

A third helicopter pilot in the area at the time recalled hearing Mr James' inbound call, but did not recall hearing a taxi call from the other pilot taking off. A fourth helicopter pilot could not recall hearing calls from either of the two pilots involved in the crash before their aircraft collided.

Pilot says he did not see second helicopter take off

The report said Mr James also told the ATSB he didn't see the second helicopter take off from the helipad.

"While video footage taken by passengers in both helicopters on mobile phones contained images of the other helicopter, this does not mean that the other helicopter was visible to either pilot," Mr Mitchell said.

"The investigation will look closely at the issues both pilots faced in seeing the other helicopter."

Ashley Jenkinson pictured with his partner inside a helicopter
Pilot Ashley Jenkinson (left) was killed in the crash. Source: Facebook

Alongside Mr Jenkinson, 40, British couple Ron and Diane Hughes, 65 and 57, and Sydney mother Vanessa Tadros, 36, were killed in the crash on January 2.

Ms Tadros' son Nicholas, 10, has been undergoing procedures in hospital since the accident, and last week had his leg amputated from the knee down.

Victorian mother Winnie de Silva, 33, and her nine-year-old son Leon are recovering from injuries sustained in the crash.

Mr James managed to land his aircraft safely, but he and two of his passengers were injured by flying glass when its windshield shattered.

The others injured were New Zealand women Elmarie Steenberg and Marle Swart, who had been on holiday with their husbands Riaan Steenberg and Edward Swart.

The full ATSB report into the collision by the Air Transport Safety Bureau is not expected until at least September 2024.

With AAP

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