Commercial flights have resumed at Essendon airport after a plane carrying five men fatally crashed and exploded into flames just after take-off.
Flights from Essendon took off again on Thursday morning, two days after the charter plane to Tasmania’s King Island crashed into a Direct Factory Outlet shopping centre near the end of a runway.
Four Americans on a golfing trip and their Victorian pilot were killed.
Federal Transport Minister Darren Chester says the flight’s cockpit voice recorder has been retrieved from the wreckage and sent away for more analysis.
“The cockpit voice recorder may contain some important information for the investigators and that’s why it’s gone to Canberra for further analysis,” he told ABC radio on Thursday.
Essendon airport had been open to emergency services only until Thursday morning, an Essendon Fields spokesman said.
A flight bound for Warrnambool with 11 people on board was the first flight out, while a flight from King Island also touched down.
During the closure, incoming flights were diverted to Melbourne or Avalon airports.
Investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau are still collecting evidence at the crash site.
Pilot Max Quartermain made two mayday calls but they did not contain information about the cause of the crash.
It’s believed catastrophic engine failure may have caused the tragedy.
Mr Quartermain’s passengers, Greg Reynolds De Haven, Glenn Garland, Russell Munsch and John Washburn, had planned to play golf in King Island, while their wives had stayed behind in Melbourne for the day.
Family members in the US were understood to be on their way to Melbourne to provide support to the women.
Agencies are working with the US passengers’ families to repatriate the bodies.
Among the support and condolences for the families include the queen says in a statement she and Prince Philip were saddened to hear the news.
The DFO centre where the plane crashed remains closed until further notice.
The crash reignited concerns about whether the airport – surrounded by homes, a retail outlet and freeways – should remain open.
But the Australian Airports Association says the airport is integral in supporting passenger services, freight and emergency services in Victoria.
“Essendon manages more than 50,000 aircraft movements a year and plays a critical role in connecting regional communities, especially in Victoria and Tasmania, with vital services in Melbourne,” the association said on Thursday.
The DFO will be remain closed for trade on Friday but a dedicated area will be set up outside at midday to allow people to pay their respects to the men killed in the crash.
“Out of respect for those who lost their lives and their families, we have made the decision not to reopen the centre until Monday morning, ” says CEO for Vicinity Centres, Angus McNaughton, in a statement.
“This allows our community the opportunity to pay their respects.”