Daytona Beach, FL - The National Transportation Safety Board has confirmed that the wing came off of a Piper PA-28 during a flight maneuver on Wednesday morning before the plane crashed near the Daytona Flea & Farmers Market, killing an Embry-Riddle student pilot and an FAA pilot examiner.
"This is what I do know," said Aaron McCarter with the NTSB at a press conference on Thursday morning. "The aircraft... was performing touch-and-go maneuvers at Daytona Beach International Airport on runway 25 left. There were two passengers on board, both of which were fatally injured."
The touch-and-go maneuvers consist of an airplane flying in a pattern, performing various take-offs and landings. "It's a very common maneuver for students and pilots," said McCarter. Witnesses said that during a take-off attempt, a wing came off of the aircraft, which then hit the ground about a half-a-mile from the runway.
"This on-scene investigation is part of a much larger process," McCarter said. "We're gonna be on scene anywhere from two to five days." After the site of the crash is thoroughly examined and investigated, the wreckage will be transported to Jacksonville to be examined in a controlled environment.
When asked about the wing coming off of the plane, McCarter responded: "I have to say, it's very uncommon. These airplanes are engineered to perform in all kinds of environments. This is a very unique situation." But, McCarter did say there are "numerous factors that could cause the structural failure of a component that doesn't necessarily have to do with the aircraft."
According to McCarter, maintenance checks were performed on the plane before the fatal accident, but investigators will dig into records and interview students who flew the aircraft leading up to the crash.
McCarter says a preliminary report on the accident should be out in a week to ten days. The victims' families have been notified, but their names won't be released until they are officially identified.
Earlier reporting can be found here.
Photo courtesy WFTV Channel 9.
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