It’s been revealed that the seaplane involved in a crash that killed six people was also involved in a fatal accident 20 years earlier.

A report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau shows that the plane – a former crop duster – crashed in November 1996, killing the pilot.

Investigators were unable to determine exactly what caused the crash, but concluded that it was most likely that the plane stalled and the pilot was unable to regain control, citing strong winds, a heavy load, rising terrain and a high-density altitude as contributing to the crash.

The report says damage to the plane “destroyed” it, but the Civil Aviation Safety Authority confirmed a specialist engineer who assessed the damage said it was reparable.

The 55-year-old plane was bought by Sydney Seaplanes in 2006. Previously it was owned by a property developer, who told Fairfax that he found it “perfectly reliable” as he flew between Sydney and the central coast.

A police operation is underway to recover the plane, which is believed to have sunk to 13-metres in Jerusalem Bay. Investigators are still determining what caused the crash.

Richard Cousins, 58, his fiancée Emma Bowden, 48, his sons William, 25 and Ed, 23, and her daughter Heather, 11, along with pilot Gareth Morgan, 44 all died when the plane crashed on New Year’s Eve.

Image: Kurt Bratby via the Daily Telegraph