Investigators will spend several days examining the wreckage site of a small that crashed into a suburban Melbourne street, killing the pilot and narrowly missing nearby homes.
Investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) on Saturday examined the Scarlet Street site at Mordialloc where the the single-engine Cessna 172 crashed just after 5pm on Friday, killing the 50-year-old pilot inside.
The pilot has been named by friends and media outlets as father-of-two Anthony Liddell.
Kirkhope Aviation described Mr Liddell as experienced in aircraft maintenance and “so capable in so many spheres” in a post on social media.
Mr Liddell’s plane tore down power lines as it crashed and caught fire, with flames rising higher than seven metres before they were put out by firefighters.
The Cessna also appeared to have lightly clipped the corner of a house and damaged its front fence.
ATSB executive director Nat Nagy said witnesses saw the plane take a turn before crashing into the ground.
“Unfortunately a pilot has lost their life. Our goal is to look at exactly what happened in the lead-up to that in the hope it won’t happen again,” he said.
Mr Nagy declined to speculate on what happened in the lead-up to the crash, but said investigators would stay on site for several days.
“We try to reconstruct exactly what was happening in the lead-up to an accident or incident,” he told reporters.
“At this stage it’s too early to know exactly what happened.”
While he wouldn’t comment on reports the one-hour flight was a test flight, or whether there had been a mayday call, Mr Nagy said there was no indication of engine failure at this stage of the investigation.
Mr Nagy also said it’s possible investigators will take sections of the aircraft to a different facility for further inspection.
Authorities say its lucky the plane did not crash into nearby houses and no was else was injured.
“It was very fortunate in this case that the aircraft landed away from any houses … but that of itself isn’t our focal point,” Mr Nagy said.
“Our focal point is the sequence leading up to the accident occurring.”
Over the coming days ATSB investigators will examine the aircraft and its parts and also attempt to recover in-air data and air traffic control recordings.
The ATSB will also interview witnesses and look at the plane’s maintenance records, as well as the pilot’s records.
Victoria Police said the family has asked for privacy while they grieve.
Nearby Moorabbin Airport declined to comment on the crash.
The plane’s operator, Oxford Aviation Academy, has also declined to comment.
A Scarlet Street resident earlier told AAP he saw the burning aircraft after sirens drew him to where there was “black smoke billowing”.
“It was very intense, it was very strong,” he said.