A Lennox Head based Qantas pilot is believed to have deliberately crashed a light plane into the ocean off Byron Bay, Sydney media has reported.
The pilot had been flying passenger jets shortly before his death.
The report in the Daily Telegraph says that pilot Paul Whyte had been struggling with a broken marriage and rented a plane from a Lismore flying club before making a final phone call to his daughters.
He disappeared into the ocean six nautical miles off Byron Bay.
The search for the Cessna 172 off the north coast was called off at noon yesterday by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
The last known radar contact made with the plane was at around 4.50pm on Tuesday while the plane flew over water, 11km north east of Cape Byron,
Police Marine Area Command are still looking for debris
The Daily Telegraph report said that Qantas initially refused to confirm Mr Whyte worked for the airline but later admitted he was an employee.