The search for the wreckage of the Robinson 44 helicopter, its pilot and the 2-year old baby has been called off.

Investigator in Charge Andrew McGregor says there have been several challenges, including large areas of sunken reef on the Western side of Natewa bay which pose significant risks to sea craft and specialist sonar equipment; the depth of channels which are near the limit of diver capability together with the strong currents at these locations; and the likelihood that the helicopter broke upon impact.

He says in that case it is likely that the strong sea currents have transported the helicopter sections several miles from the initial point of impact, making discovery of significant wreckage even with substantially greater search resources, unlikely.

He adds despite the fact that significant wreckage has not been found, many pieces of the helicopter such as sections of Aluminium skin, seat squabs, personal effects and the body of one of the passengers has been found along several miles of the Western coast of Natewa bay.

McGregor says even though formal search operations will cease, other aspects of the crash will continue to be investigated and findings from this work will be included in the final air crash investigation report which will be submitted to the government of Fiji.

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