The seaplane that crashed killing six people north of Sydney on New Year's Eve had been "destroyed" in a previous fatal crash accident and rebuilt, an Australian Transport Safety Bureau report shows.

WA Today reports the aircraft involved in the crash had previously flown as a crop duster with a different registration but the same serial number. It crashed, killing the pilot, in November 1996 during hot gusty winds in NSW.

The report from that crash notes that the plane "did not seem to be climbing sufficiently to pass over the hill in front of it".

"The aircraft was then seen to be in a climbing left turn, towards the driver with superphosphate dumping from it. The aircraft's left wingtip contacted the ground after which the aircraft cartwheeled and came to rest 200-300 metres from the superphosphate dump," it said.


"The driver ran down to the aircraft and found the pilot still strapped in the seat with no apparent sign of life. He moved the pilot clear of the aircraft in case of fire and then summoned help."

The report listed the plane as "destroyed" and the accident "fatal".

The plane had since been rebuilt and made safe to fly, WA Today claims. It's believed to have changed hands several times before Sydney Seaplanes bought it.

Previous owners said they found the plane "reliable", and Sydney Seaplanes boss Aaron Shaw said this week the engines were replaced every 1100 flying hours — faster than the industry standard and the plane in question had only flown 200 hours.

Gareth Morgan died when his seaplane crashed on New Year's Eve. Photo / Facebook
Gareth Morgan died when his seaplane crashed on New Year's Eve. Photo / Facebook