An inquest into a fatal plane crash off the Gold Coast that investigators say may have been caused by low level aerobatics will examine the pilot’s training, the coroner says.
Pilot Martinus Van Hattem, 52, and passenger Trista Lea Applebee were killed when the Soviet-era Yak 52 plane crashed near South Stradbroke Island in June 2019.
The scenic flight was an early birthday present for Ms Applebee, a 31-year-old mother.
Her partner was reportedly waiting at the Southport air strip and alerted authorities when they did not return.
An Australian Transport Safety Board report in February said there was a “possibility” low level aerobatics had caused the crash.
Coroner Nerida Wilson said the pilot’s training would be among the issues considered at the September inquest at Southport.
“The inquest will consider the level and adequacy of Mr Van Hattem’s pilot training for aerobatic flight activity endorsements and his aviation proficiency,” she said on Thursday.
Witnesses and recorded data indicated the plane had been conducting a number of manoeuvres at less than 500 feet before it crashed into the water at high speed, the ATSB report said.
Mr Van Hattem had only been trained to conduct aerobatics “at no less than 3000 feet” in the two-seat, ex-military aircraft.
The report said the pilot had been warned about conducting low-level moves but it had not been officially reported.
ATSB and Queensland Police investigation reports would be referenced at the four-day inquest starting on September 20, Ms Wilson said.
The inquest will also investigate the regulation of Warbird – or vintage ex-military planes – flying operations and the airworthiness and maintenance of the Yak 52.
The ATSB 2019 crash probe found a lever attached to the plane’s hinged rear flap had cracked under fatigue but had not contributed to the accident. However, it did warrant a safety advisory notice to Yak 52 owners.
Ms Wilson said the inquest – expected to feature 10 witnesses – would look at whether anything could be done to prevent similar tragedies.
“This matter is terribly tragic and I’m sure the (victims’) families look forward, as the regulatory bodies do, to understanding the circumstances of the accident that caused their deaths,” she said.