2 Pilots Survive 'Miraculous' Escape from Boeing 737 Tanker Crash While Fighting Fires in Australia

The aircraft went down in Western Australia on Monday above the Fitzgerald River National Park while helping put out a wildfire that has been raging in the area

Two pilots are lucky to be alive after their plane crashed along the coast in Western Australia.

The Boeing 737 "FireLiner Tanker" was flying above the Fitzgerald River National Park on Monday by "two experienced pilots" when "the aircraft went down," according to a statement from Wayne Coulson, CEO of Coulson Group, an aerial firefighting company. The pilots were part of an effort to tame a large bushfire currently raging in the area.

"Both have received medical attention, have been released from hospital and are now recuperating," continued Coulson's statement, which was released Tuesday. "They were deeply shaken to have something like this happen while fighting for the community and are grateful they were able to walk away from the accident."

737 crash in Australia

Coulson added that he is "grateful" for the support being shown to his team members and the pilots involved.

The pilots' escape is "nothing short of miraculous," Stephen Dawson, an Australian Emergency Services Minister, said, according to the Associated Press. He said that the plane was engulfed in flames and smoke upon impact, and it crashed just after dropping its first load of fire retardant.

Australian news outlet WAtoday reported that the fire "has already burnt more than 900 hectares in the national park," which is equivalent to just over 2200 acres. A "bushfire watch and act warning" is in place given the size of the blaze.

The crash is the "first serious accident involving a Boeing 737" in the country, according to a release from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau's Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell. The aircraft was formerly used in the U.S. as a "passenger airliner," the release said, "before being extensively modified" to become an aerial firefighter.

The ATSB's investigation into the crash is ongoing, but Mitchell said there is "nothing to suggest" that the crash has any wider implications for other Boeing 737 aircrafts.

737 crash in Australia

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In 2020, a similar crash occurred when another Coulson Aviation aircraft went down while fighting wildfires in New South Wales. Mitchell said it's "too early to suggest any kind of link" between Monday's crash and the 2020 accident, which killed three American pilots.

The crash comes just a month after a helicopter crash killed four, including a pilot, and seriously injured three off the Gold Coast in Queensland.

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