In a statement on the company’s Facebook page, managing director Aaron Shaw confirmed scenic flights had been scheduled to start flying again today, but due to high winds, planes were forced to wait for more favourable conditions.
Shaw believes getting back in the air is what pilot Gareth Morgan, who died in the crash alongside a British family of five, would have wanted.
“There is never a perfect time to recommence flying after an incident of this nature, however getting back in the air is a necessary step given the range of people, tourism and hospitality businesses in Sydney that rely on our services,” he said.
The company’s remaining De Havilland Beaver DHC-2 aircraft, the same type as the plane that crashed, will remain grounded for the time being. Although the company has faith the aircraft has no “systemic failings”, it’s awaiting the release of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s preliminary report on the incident, expected at the end of the month.
Sydney Seaplanes will take customers up in its two Cessna C-208 Caravan aircrafts, both turbine-powered 2008 models. For the interim, all flights will be manned by two pilots. “The decision to increase pilot numbers exceeds any safety regulations and will give our customers additional peace of mind to allow them to concentrate on enjoying their flights around Sydney’s beautiful harbour,” Shaw explained.
Sydney Seaplanes also noted its flying aircrafts are “serviced and maintained by Australia’s Cessna-certified maintenance facility Hawker Pacific at Bankstown airport, who ensure the aircraft’s airworthiness and high standards of maintenance.”
The Empire Lounge also reopened on January 13, following a memorial service on January 12 commemorating pilot Gareth Morgan and passengers; Richard Cousins, his sons William and Edward, fiancé Emma Bowden and her eleven-year-old daughter Heather.
Although Sydney Seaplanes safety record has been blemished (after 70,000 safe flights since 2006), it still has the continued support of Kevin Bowe, vice president of the Seaplane Pilots Association Australia, who said in the same statement on Facebook: “Sydney Seaplanes is an excellent operation with some of the most experienced pilots in the world ... The company has always exceeded best practice industry standards.” Shaw signed off by stating: “Sydney Seaplanes will continue to support the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and other authorities as they investigate the incident and prepare their report.”