Detectives have charged 31-year-old pilot Josh Hoch with 342 offences following a protracted multi-agency investigation into the alleged tampering of aircraft at Mount Isa Airport.
Mr Hoch was arrested by Mount Isa detectives late Tuesday afternoon, January 24.
Police have laid 342 charges, including counts of endangering the safety of a person in a vehicle with intent, dangerous operation of a vehicle, flying aircraft without a licence, fraud offences, and offences in relation to aircraft. Bail was opposed when Mr Hoch appeared in the Mount Isa Magistrates Court on January 25.
In October 2016, Northern Region police and State Crime Command officers, along with personnel from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority began major operation Operation Oscar-Demotic after receiving information about damage of aircraft at the Airport.
Police established the damage was limited to two private air charter service providers, and not the broader aviation community or major commercial operators. Advice from expert aviation engineers was aircraft had allegedly been damaged through the application of abrasive material directly into engines, resulting in catastrophic engine failure and the forced landings of two aircraft. Further engine failures were detected prior to take-off occurred on another two aeroplanes.
A review of aircraft security and passenger safety at Mount Isa Airport began immediately and additional measures were implemented to further ensure the safety of passengers and crews. There have been no further instances of aircraft being damaged, and police reassure the travelling community of their safety.
Preliminary investigations identified a significant witness. Subsequent investigations conducted across Australia also identified this person as a significant witness in relation to a large number of alleged offences ranging from the dangerous operation of aircraft, fraudulent conduct relating to insurance claims and charter operations, as well as numerous safety breaches relating to aviation regulations. These incidents involve charter operations from Charters Towers and Mount Isa.
The investigation also uncovered evidence relating to the alleged grievous bodily harm of an aircraft engineer at Charters Towers in July of 2014. As a result of this incident, a man aged in his 60s sustained permanent and life-changing head injuries.
Investigations are continuing and police are appealing for anyone with any information relating to this investigation to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.