Repatriation talks underway for pilot’s body

The Australian High Commission has been in contact with the PNG Accident Investigation Commission to repatriate the body of the Australian pilot whose aircraft crashed last Wednesday in Kiunga.

PNG Accident Investigation Commission CEO David Inau said the pilot had been with Sunbird Aviation for a year now and is a very experienced pilot.  “He has flown a number of this type of aircraft.”

“We have spoken to the parents and we have also organised the pathologist. The processes of getting legal clearance for a post mortem are being worked on. Once that is completed, we will be conducting a post mortem as part of the investigation.”

Two investigators from PNG AIC are currently in Kiunga, Western Province, carrying ongoing investigations while the aircraft engine manufacturer from Canada will be traveling to Kiunga this week.

Inau said the post mortem will depend on how soon Sunbird Aviation can repatriate his body into Port Moresby. Sunbird Aviation is based in Vanimo. They have been operating for the last six years.

The pilot was identified as 31-year-old Benjamin Andre Picard, from Sydney, Australia.  

The aircraft departed Oksapmin for Kiunga at 1356 on April 13 however, on approach to land at Kiunga, it crashed approximately 1200 metres short of the runway.

Twelve people onboard the aircraft, including the pilot, lost their lives.

(Pictures provided by PNG Accident Investigation Commission CEO David Inau.) 


Sally Pokiton