AUTHORITIES would never know why a light aircraft went wildly off course and crashed in rural Victoria killing
six people, the air transport safety regulator said today.
Timber company D&R Henderson executive Robert Henderson, his daughter Jackie, friends Alan Stark, Belinda Andrews
and Geoff Brockie were killed when the twin-engined Piper Cheyenne crashed into a tree-covered ridge near
Benalla in Victoria's northeast on July 28, 2004.
Also killed was pilot Kerry Endicott, who had flown D&R Henderson staff from Sydney to the company's Benalla
factory at least once a week since 1988.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) today released its final report into the accident and said they
would probably never know why Mr Endicott veered off course moments before the crash.
ATSB deputy director Alan Stray said the crash was so severe, most of the plane's instruments were destroyed,
hampering the investigation.
"Unfortunately, we will never know why the pilot descended and entered the pattern that he did in making the
approach," he said.
Mr Endicott was supposed to fly towards one of three points from where the Piper would fly into Benalla airport.
Air traffic controllers were not concerned when the aircraft did not fly in on the agreed approach but appeared
to be heading to another further south.
But investigators could not establish why the pilot then went even further south, dropped off radar and crashed
about 30km west of the airport.
Mr Stray said the pilot might have thought he had reached the approach and had mistakenly begun to turn the plane.
"Why he was way off course, having flown that flight so many times over so many years is a mystery, and will
more than likely remain a mystery.
"We have spent considerable time, energy, efforts and resources, not only of our own people but also our
counterparts overseas," he said.
"We still can't come up with a definitive (answer)."
The ATSB has recommended all pilots cross reference their position on more than one piece of navigational equipment.