Orange light plane crash pilot and instructor were testing aircraft before crash



May 16, 2018 12:03:00

A pilot and instructor who are still in a critical condition after a plane crash in western New South Wales have been identified.

The owner of the plane, Ben Wheeler of Orange, was flying the Cirrus SR-22 when it crashed at Orange Airport at about 7:00pm last night.

Catherine Fitzsimons was the instructor on board and works for flight training organisation, Ward Air, which is based in Bathurst.

The ABC has been told the pair had been carrying out what is known as ratings, which involves testing a new plane.

The four-seater was doing circuits when it crashed on the northern side of the runway and burst into flames on impact.

NSW Ambulance acting duty operations manager, Jason Speight, said the pair had been practising take-off and landing procedures when the crash occurred.

The pilot and instructor, both in their 40s, suffered critical burns and are in Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital.

They suffered burns to their arms, legs, scalp and airways, and also possible fractures.

He said Ms Fitzsimmons sustained more severe injuries than Mr Wheeler.

The pair have been unable to tell authorities what happened in the moments before the crash.

The plane wreckage is not expected to be moved from the site for several days and an exclusion zone has been set up around the scene.

Investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) are travelling to Orange today to examine the area.

The Orange Airport is operating as normal, and there are no interruptions to scheduled flights.





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