The National Transportation Safety Board has released its Preliminary Report on the June 21st, 2019 crash of a Beechcraft King Air on the Hawaiian island of Oahu in which 11 people died just after takeoff as the aircraft was departing for a skydiving flight. The NTSB’s report doesn’t name a probable cause for the accident, but there are numerous hints that investigators are looking at it as a likely engine-failure loss of control crash.
The report paraphrases the account of an eyewitness to the accident who describes a loss of control that would be consistent with an engine failure related rollover. According to the report…
“The passengers were loaded onto the airplane while it was on the taxiway next to the OPC facility on the southeast side of the airport. A parachute instructor at OPC observed the boarding process and watched as the airplane taxied west to the departure end of runway 8. He could hear the engines during the initial ground roll and stated that the sound was normal, consistent with the engines operating at high power. When the airplane came into his view as it headed toward him, it was at an altitude of between 150 and 200 ft above ground level and appeared to be turning. He could see its belly, with the top of the cabin facing the ocean to the north. The airplane then struck the ground in a nose-down attitude, and a fireball erupted.
Although the report noted that the witness heard the engines operating seemingly normally as it was beginning its takeoff roll, it doesn’t mention whether or not that sound changed before the King Air went out of control.
Also noted in the report was a detail that hasn’t been widely reported on, that two of the 10 passengers who died in the crash, took the flight at the last minute, presumably because there was space for two more. The other occupants were the pilot, and three tandem parachute jumpers along with their three instructors, as well as two camera operators.
The NTSB is continuing to investigate the crash.
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