NTSB begins investigation of Huntsville plane crash

Published: Jun. 20, 2014 at 12:30 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 17, 2014 at 7:10 PM CDT
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Three men were killed in a plane crash at Huntsville International Airport on Wednesday....
Three men were killed in a plane crash at Huntsville International Airport on Wednesday. (Source: WAFF)

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board will give an update into the investigation of a fatal plane crash at Huntsville International Airport Thursday afternoon.

Three men were killed Wednesday when their Westwind II aircraft crashed while attempted to depart from the runway. The plane was registered to Synfuels Holdings Finance LLC, a company based in Birmingham, which was the plane's intended final destination.

One of the first pieces of evidence investigators have is an audio recording from the airport's traffic control and from emergency response radio.

The recordings indicate rapid response in the moments after the plane went down and caught fire. Air traffic controllers do what they can to organize rescue efforts on the ground, while simultaneously ordering other planes to divert or continue circling the airport.

Recordings indicate there were at least two eyewitnesses.

At a briefing Thursday evening, NTSB officials said witness reports indicated the plane reached no higher than 100 feet before banking hard and steep to the right.

The plane impacted west of the runway, and was destroyed by the force of the impact and the fire which followed. All three men who were killed were certified pilots who were going to partake in training exercises.

The NTSB's investigation began with documenting the crash site and said they think they located the the voice recorder, which they said will be vital to the investigation.

Investigators are also examining video surveillance. From the audio and video evidence, they determined the pilots wanted to practice two approaches as part of training for the two contracted employees of the jet's owner. No distress calls were made by the crew.

After the wreckage is documented, it will be taken to a secure location for reconstructive analysis.

While the full investigation is expected to take nine months to one year, a preliminary report is expected within 10 days.

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