The owner of a seaplane that crashed off the coast of Australia on New Year's Eve says the flight path taken by the B.C. pilot was not authorized.

Gareth Morgan,44, of North Vancouver was killed along with his five British passengers when the de Havilland Beaver crashed near Sydney.

   The Australian Transport Safety Bureau released a preliminary report today ruling out a bird strike, contaminated fuel and the plane breaking up in flight but does not suggest any likely cause of the crash.

   Sydney Seaplanes CEO Aaron Shaw says the key question is why Morgan was flying in a bay surrounded by steep terrain that had no exit and why an experienced pilot suddenly entered a steep right turn before the plane nosedived into the water.

   The plane had an earlier fatal crash in 1996 while operating as a crop duster in rural Australia that was blamed on the pilot stalling the aircraft.