Taipan crash search crew finds human remains, debris

Wreckage found at Hamilton Island crash site

Unidentified human remains have been found in the search for four army crew who are presumed dead following a helicopter crash off the Queensland coast.

A MRH-90 Taipan chopper crashed off the north Queensland coast during the multinational Exercise Talisman Sabre last week.

Captain Danniel Lyon, Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent, Warrant Officer Class Two Joseph Laycock and Corporal Alexander Naggs are all missing and presumed dead after their helicopter hit the water off Hamilton Island.

Australian Defence Force chief of joint operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton said on Thursday that human remains had been found 40 metres below the surface during the search for the crew.

But he said identification was unlikely until recovery efforts were complete. Debris from the Taipan’s cockpit has also been found by underwater vehicles during the search.

“Army has spoken with the families of the missing soldiers and is providing them with support,” General Bilton said.

“It is important to collect as much of the debris as we can so we can fully understand how this incident occurred.”

General Bilton said recovery efforts would be difficult, with weather conditions forecast to remain challenging for crews in coming days.

The helicopter’s black box flight recorder has not yet been recovered.

The government is working on a replacement fleet for the troubled Taipan helicopters.

army helicopter crash whitsundays

Captain Danniel Lyon, Warrant Officer Class Two Joseph Laycock, Corporal Alexander Naggs and Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent are believed to have died in the chopper crash.

The crash was the second incident involving a Taipan helicopter this year after another of the aircraft ditched into the water off the NSW south coast in March during a training exercise.

The former Coalition government announced in 2021 the fleet would be replaced by Black Hawks.

The Taipans are due to come out of service at the end of 2024.


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