A key piece of evidence that could help determine the circumstances of the fatal crash of an army helicopter off North Queensland has been found.
Defence on Tuesday said a Royal Australian Navy dive team had recovered the Voice and Flight Data Recorder (VFDR), also known as the “black box”, from the wreckage of the MRH-90 Taipan.
Captain Danniel Lyon, Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent, Warrant Officer Class Two Joseph Laycock, and Corporal Alexander Naggs were killed when the helicopter crashed near Lindeman Island on July 28 during military exercises.
“Defence’s priority remains the recovery of our soldiers and returning them to their families,” Defence said in the statement.
“Defence remains in close contact with the families and is updating them on the operation as new details become available.”
The Queensland Coroner has released the recovered wreckage, including the VFDR, to Defence to support the Defence Flight Safety Bureau investigation into the accident.
On Thursday, Defence revealed human remains had been found near the crash site.
Australian Defence Force Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Greg Bilton said positive identification would take some time.
“The debris field is consistent with a catastrophic, high impact [crash],” Lieutenant Bilton said.
“Sadly I can confirm unidentified human remains have also been observed in this location by the remote operated underwater vehicle.
“Due to the nature of the debris field positive identification of the remains is unlikely to occur until we recover more of the wreckage.”
Australia’s fleet of Taipan aircraft has since been grounded until the cause of the crash can be determined.
The ABC revealed Defence is transitioning to Black Hawk helicopters instead, with two arriving in Sydney two days after the Taipan crash.