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NTSB opens probe into Dillingham Airfield plane crash

  • COURTESY NTSB

    NTSB investigator Eliott Simpson briefs NTSB Board Member Jennifer Homendy today at the scene of Friday’s plane crash at Dillingham Airfield that killed 11 people.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board have arrived on Oahu to start their investigation into a plane crash that killed 11 people at Dillingham Airfield on Friday.

Jennifer Homendy, an NTSB board member, was at the site of the crash and held a briefing this morning to discuss current findings and the future of the investigation.

NTSB will be looking at any evidence from the crash, such as logbooks, the passengers, weather conditions, runway conditions and information about the plane itself, including maintenance records. Homendy said the NTSB will be looking at “perishable evidence” including information about the pilot, such as logbooks and training records.

Regarding weather conditions at the time of the crash, Homendy said it is under investigation, but said, “We do understand it was clear with a light wind.”

She also suggested the plane was not at its full weight capacity, but noted that weight distribution could and has factored in other NTSB investigations.

“The aircraft itself is outfitted for 13 people,” she said. “Weight and balance has a factor in the safety of these operations, and that’s a calculation that needs to be made before a plane is operated, and that is something we’ll be looking at.”

When asked why the plane was allowed to fly after being involved in a previous crash, Homendy likened the plane to the maintenance of other transportation vehicles.

“Like other modes of transportation, you would conduct repairs and make sure that is inspected, and so we will be looking at the quality of those repairs and whether it was inspected and whether it was air-worthy,” she said.

The plane that crashed Friday had experienced “aircraft structural failure” during a 2016 skydiving accident over Byron, Calif., according to the NTSB.

Homendy said she is unaware of a black box on board the aircraft.

NTSB will likely have another press conference later today and will issue a preliminary report within the next two weeks. Homendy urged witnesses to share any information regarding the crash with investigators.

The accident occurred Friday and killed all 11 people on board, which Homendy said makes it the deadliest civilian airplane accident in the U.S. since 2011.

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