Two experienced pilots seriously injured after plane crash
A routine pilot review has ended in disaster after two experienced pilots were seriously injured.
Ben Wheeler, 46, was doing a training exercise with pilot Katherine Fitzsimons when they crashed the Cirrus SR-22 at Orange Regional Airport around 7pm last night.
It’s understood the pair were practicing take-off and landing procedures in Mr Wheeler’s plane when it crashed on the northern side of the runway and burst into flames.
Ambulance crews arrived shortly after the small four-seater aircraft caught fire.
Jason Speight from NSW Ambulance last night said both victims were conscious when emergency services arrived on the scene.
They both suffered serious burns and were flown to Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital.
It’s understood Ms Fitzsimons, aged 55, may have suffered more severe injuries than Mr Wheeler.
Orange Aero Club committee member Steve Turner has since told Central Western Daily, Mr Wheeler was on a pilot review light.
"Both the pilots are extremely fastidious," Mr Turner said.
"I would be extremely surprised if it was pilot error.”
Meanwhile, the incident has sent shockwaves through the community.
The Mayor of Orange Reg Kidd said the incident “puts everyone on edge.”
“The most important thing is we figure out why it happened and put measures in place so hopefully it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
A colleague of Ms Fitzsimons told 9NEWS that she is both “rare and very, very dearly loved.”
Investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) are travelling to Orange today to inspect the crash.
“The evidence collection phase will define the size and scope of the investigation and determine the expected time frame for the completion of a final report,” an ATSB statement said.