Witnesses saw plane wobble and roll before crash
Witnesses to last week's Hawaii Air Ambulance crash in Kahului told investigators they saw the wings wobble, the aircraft roll and bank sharply, and the wings wobble again just before the twin-engine airplane dropped straight down, according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Hawaii Air Ambulance Chairman Andrew Kluger said in a written statement he is encouraged the investigation is proceeding but cannot speculate as to the cause of the crash until the investigation is completed.
The report, released yesterday, lists no cause of the crash.
Pilots said the description of the events leading up to the crash could indicate the aircraft may have encountered some kind of air turbulence, but they also chose not to speculate. They said the control tower warns pilots of possible wake turbulence caused by other aircraft landing or taking off and imposes a three-minute waiting period between takeoffs and landings.
Pilot Peter Miller, 32; nurse Brien Eisaman, 37; and paramedic Marlena Yomes, 39, died when the Cessna 414A crashed into a Kahului car dealership last Wednesday. They were scheduled to pick up a Maui patient to transport to Oahu.
Witnesses saw the airplane flying at between 100 and 300 feet about a mile west of the airport, the report said. They saw the wings wobble at times and the aircraft roll up to 60 degrees at other times.
All witnesses said they heard what sounded like one or both engines running at high power and landing and position lights on. And all witnesses said they saw the wings wobble just before the aircraft dropped straight down into the automobile dealership, the report said. The crash burned the aircraft and 10 cars.
Kluger grounded his company's remaining aircraft to undergo voluntary comprehensive safety inspections. Hawaii Air Ambulance continues to operate using U.S. Coast Guard and chartered aircraft.