NTSB: 5 people died in plane that went missing off Charleston coast; pilot made transmission

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Investigators say a pilot sent out a transmission before his private plane, with four other people aboard, went missing 100 miles east off Charleston’s coast.

On Wednesday, officials with the National Transportation Safety Board released the preliminary report in the Piper PA-31 aircraft incident which occurred on Oct. 25 and took the lives of five people.

The aircraft had departed from Robert F. Swinnie Airport in Andrews, SC, and was headed to the Bahamas when the pilot communicated that he was diverting to Charleston.

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

There were no major weather events or precipitation that occurred at the time of the “accident,” and there was an advisory in effect for moderate turbulence in the region.

NTSB report released

The NTSB report released on Wednesday further details the incident when radar contact was lost with Piper PA-31T, N555PM.

According to the report, it all started when the plane was about 95 miles southeast of Charleston and the pilot made a garbled radio transmission indicating that he was diverting 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.

The pilot’s last transmission was “emergency emergency, five five five papa mike.”

One of the Coast Guard’s search planes reported an oil sheen on the surface of the water near the last known coordinates of the aircraft, however there were no signs of the plane or debris from it.

The search effort was cancelled on October 27 at sunset.

NTSB officials said weather records revealed that there were no major weather events during the incident.

Officials with the NTSB report that a review of the aircraft’s logbooks say that the most recent annual inspection of the plane was performed on Sept. 5, 2018 and at that time the aircraft had accrued a total of 7,718 hours.

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