Two dead after small plane crashes into forested area west of Coffs Harbour | Australia news

Two men – believed to a Gold Coast father and son – have died after their small plane crashed into steep, forested terrain in northern New South Wales.

Police confirmed the deaths after trekking to the crash site in the Dorrigo national park on Saturday afternoon.

The Mooney M20 four-seater plane dropped off radar while over that area, about 25km west of Coffs Harbour, about 7.30am on Friday.

But poor conditions including rain and fog prevented the crash site being spotted until Saturday morning and anyone being winched to the site by helicopter.

Police said the family of the men – believed to be aged their 50s and 20s and from the Gold Coast area – are being informed of the deaths.

The light plane departed Murwillumbah in northern NSW at 6.30am on Friday and was scheduled to arrive in Taree at 8am.

The pilot’s associates – concerned the plane had not reached its destination – on Friday morning contacted the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which deployed its Melbourne-based search and rescue jet.

A Westpac rescue helicopter critical care team assisted in the search.

The crash will now be investigated by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, which asked any person who may have seen the aircraft flying in the vicinity of Mount Moombil or Dorrigo national park to go to or call 1800 992 986.

The ATSB investigation will examine the wreckage, interview witnesses and study any available flight, pilot or weather data.

“Should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant stakeholders so appropriate and timely safety action can be taken,” a spokesman said on Saturday.

It is the second fatal flight crash in NSW in two weeks and the fifth fatal crash nationwide in four months, according to ATSB data.

A helicopter with five people on board plummeted into waters off Port Stephens, north of Newcastle, on 6 September while the sole occupant of a two-seater Liberty XL2 plane died near an airfield at Braidwood, NSW, on 6 August.

Crashes in Queensland involving a Yak-52 at South Stradbroke Island on June 5 and a Cessna 210 near Mount Isa on May 26 both claimed two lives each.

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