Author Topic: Fatal plane crash: NTSB working to retrieve aircraft from Lake O  (Read 1420 times)

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The National Transportation Safety Board on Sunday continued to investigate the cause of the plane crash into Lake Okeechobee that killed five passengers, including four members of a South Florida law firm.

An NTSB spokesman said Sunday that a federal investigator arrived at the scene late Saturday. The agency expects to release a preliminary report within two weeks. That document will lay out basic details such as the plane’s owner.

It could take a year or longer for investigators to determine the official cause of the crash.

“We’re just starting the process of figuring out what happened,” NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said.

One of the first tasks was pulling the plane out of Lake Okeechobee. The NTSB hired a contractor to extract the aircraft, Weiss said, adding that he was not aware if the effort had been successful.

The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday identified the plane crash victims as Eduardo Mulet, 45, of West Palm Beach, Matthew Fiorello, 36, of Palm Beach Gardens, Heather Bridwell, 43, of Jupiter, Edwin Mortell III, 54, of Stuart, and Eric Peterson, 73, of Lighthouse Point. Three of the five victims were Palm Beach County residents. All but Mulet worked at the Peterson Bernard law firm. Mulet held a pilot’s license and is believed to have been flying the aircraft.

Pahokee plane crash: Mid-flight crisis leaves pilot, 4 attorneys dead

The pilot and four attorneys were returning to North Palm Beach County Airport west of Palm Beach Gardens from Tampa International Airport, relatives of the passengers told the Post on Saturday. They had taken a quick business day trip to pitch their services to insurance executives on Florida’s west coast.

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Re: Fatal plane crash: NTSB working to retrieve aircraft from Lake O
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2019, 07:02:42 AM »

March 10-- Mar. 10--A twin-engine plane carrying four lawyers from the same South Florida law firm likely lost an engine while over Lake Okeechobee and was trying to divert to the nearest airstrip when it crashed into the water, killing everyone onboard, flight records show.

The pilot, Eduardo Mulet, and the Delaware-based charter company he flew for, also had questionable certifications, online records show and according to a flight expert.

The partners from the Peterson Bernard law firm were returning from Tampa on Friday where they'd flown that same morning aboard the same plane to meet with new clients."This appears to be an unqualified pilot to operate a charter flight," said Katz, the Dallas-based expert who tracks plane crashes nationwide. "The problem is that his medical certification was expired. After which he has no privilege to offer his services as a commercial pilot to the flying public."

The Piper PA-23-250, known as an Aztec, went down as it approached the Pahokee airport near the southeast shore of Lake Okeechobee, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Officials in Tampa said the flight was a charter, which had departed from Sheltair Aviation Services' executive hangar complex at the Tampa airport.

A supervisor at Sheltair's Fort Lauderdale office on Saturday said no managers were available to comment and recommended calling back on Monday.

Charter companies are held to a higher standard and require a higher level of pilot training, certification, maintenance and more frequent proficiency checks, according to the FAA.

The downed aircraft was registered to L-Holdings LLC in Wilmington, Del., FAA records show. It was unclear whether the company held valid charter certifications for both the pilot and the aircraft that crashed.

"It is perfectly capable of flying on one engine, but only in the hands of a qualified and proficient pilot," Katz said. "It requires enormous precision to be able to bring an airplane flying on one engine down to the runway safely."