Authorities release report on deadly 2018 plane crash off Charleston coast

Authorities release report on deadly 2018 plane crash off Charleston coast
The U.S. Coast Guard participated in a search for the missing plane after it crashed on Oct. 25, 2018. (Source: Live 5/File)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The National Transportation Safety Board released a report Wednesday on an Oct. 25, 2018, plane crash that killed five people who were on their way to the Bahamas.

The Aviation Accident Factual Report provides details on the crash but stops short of stating the probable cause of the crash, which will be part of the NTSB’s final report which is expected in a few weeks.

Investigators say the pilot of the private Piper PA-31 aircraft sent out a transmission before the plane went missing about 100 miles east of the Charleston coastline.

The plane had departed from the Robert F. Swinnie Airport in Andrews and was headed to the Bahamas when the pilot communicated that he was diverting to Charleston. It is still unclear why the pilot decided to divert to Charleston.

As the plane was making its way to Charleston, and after several air traffic control requests were made to repeat the radio transmission, the pilot replied,”We’re descending.”

The report states 15 seconds later the plane turned sharply to the left and the descent rate of the plane increased.

According to the NTSB, the pilot’s last transmission was “emergency emergency, five five five papa mike.”

The report states that at the time of the pilot’s initial emergency radio transmission, the air traffic control audio recording included the sound of an emergency locator transmitter ‘homing’ signal, obscuring the pilot’s voice. The only intelligible portion of the transmission was the call sign and the word “emergency.” The pilot’s intention to return to CHS was overheard by the pilot of another airplane in the area and relayed back to the ATC controller.

Efforts to enhance the recording and isolate what the pilot was saying were unsuccessful, the report states.

There were no major weather events or precipitation that occurred at the time of the crash.

The final report is expected within weeks.

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