An aviation company discovered it was the operator of a light plane three hours after the aircraft exploded in a fiery crash at a Melbourne shopping centre.
Australian Corporate Jet Centres had been trying to become the registered operator of the ill-fated Beechcraft King Air plane since December.
But administrative bungles between the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the previous operators MyJet Charter saw the process delayed, a decision published by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia reveals.
Three hours after the fatal crash that killed an Australian pilot and four American tourists, CASA sent ACJC an email saying the registration “should be on its way in the mail”.
“Unfortunately this aircraft was destroyed in an accident today which you may have seen in the media,” ACJC chief executive Sam Iliades wrote back.
“The plane was flown by Max Quatermaine [sic] under his AOC – Corporate and Leisure Travel and had nothing to do with our company.
“Sad news all round but we won’t be requiring the certificate.”
The initial attempt to transfer registration of the aircraft in December came undone when expired credit card details were used and CASA told MyJet new forms would have to be lodged.
The process restarted in January and on February 16, CASA amended registration to ACJC and confirmation letters were put in the post.
On February 21, the plane crashed moments after take off, killing pilot Max Quartermain and four American tourists on board.
ACJC applied to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to review the registration decision, but the application was dismissed because it was not within the Tribunal’s jurisdiction.
Co-CEO of ACJC Vas Nikoloski told AAP it was too early to take any further action over the registration of the plane, given that it no longer exists and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating the crash.
Mr Quartermain and his charter company Corporate and Leisure Travel ran the flight that killed him and Texan retirees Greg De Haven, Russell Munsch, Glenn Garland and John Washburn.
They had been in Australia on a golfing “trip of a lifetime” with their wives, who were not on the flight.
An ATSB preliminary report released last month ruled out an early theory of catastrophic engine failure during take-off, and an investigation continues into the cause the crash.
Air traffic control audio records Mr Quartermain calling “mayday” seven times but crucially there was no audio from the plane’s black box.