NTSB investigating cause of fatal small plane crash at Westside Airport

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – National Transportation Safety Board investigators collected items Monday from the site of a fatal small plane crash at an airport on the Westside of Jacksonville and are working to determine the cause of the crash.

The pilot and passenger on board the aircraft died. News4JAX aviation expert Ed Booth said the NTSB would look into the pilot’s background.

“They’ll look at their credentials, their recent experience, whether they’re current to fly the plane under FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations,” Booth said.

As for the plane, investigators will examine the engine, logbooks for maintenance history and any other information that may explain the cause of the crash.

Booth pointed out that up to 80% of all small plane crashes are due to loss of control.

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“In all likelihood, it will be the loss of control of the aircraft by the pilot. There may be contributing factors such as engine failure, but unfortunately this remains the cause of most small aircraft accidents like this, commonly referred to as pilot error,” Booth said.

According to FlightAware, the pilot took off at 10:41 a.m. from Herlong Leisure Airport. The plane traveled northeast, then north before turning back to the airport.

Next, FlightAware shows that the plane made a few small circles and then crashed less than a mile from the airport. The flight lasted 22 minutes.

Flight records also show the plane flew nine days before the crash, on December 17. It lasted 18 minutes and covered a total of 23 miles.

We know few details about the two people on board the plane, but we do know that the plane was registered with a company called Sterling Silver Flyers LLC in Montana.

As every second before the accident is investigated, some information may never be known. The plane’s altitude gauge was not working, according to the data. It displays zero for the entire flight.

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It will be difficult to understand what, if anything, the pilot said before the crash, as there is no FAA control tower at Herlong Recreational Airport, only a published frequency allowing drivers to talk back and forth. This is not uncommon for small airports.

The investigation could take up to two years.

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