A look inside the NTSB’s Chamberlain plane crash investigation

Local News

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. (KELO) — Members of the National Transportation Safety Board remain in Chamberlain this week investigating the potential cause of the plane crash that claimed nine lives over the weekend.

It’s an investigation especially important to the remaining members of the Hansen family; all 12 people on the plane were part of the Idaho Falls family.  They were wrapping up a hunting trip in Chamberlain when their plane crashed just after take off last Saturday.

“We look at the pilot, the machine or the aircraft and then the operating environment, that would include the weather,” NTSB Spokesman Peter Knudson said.

The weekends’ winter storm delayed NTSB investigators. They finally got their first look at the crash site on Monday.

“What they’re working on now is documenting the wreckage pattern in the area,” Knudson said. “The condition of the aircraft, the way it came to rest, any kind of signature marks on the propellers that might help them determine if the engine was delivering power, we’ll want to be documenting the wreckage path, the angle the aircraft came down in the field.”

Those investigators also closely consider the role Saturday’s winter storm may have played in the crash.

“We have several meteorologists on staff here in Washington who will do a complete meteorological study of the weather in the area and specifically at that airport,” Knudson said. “Visibility, ice, snow, these can all be impediments in one way or another.”

They’re also asking for anyone who may have seen or recorded what happened Saturday to come forward.

“They are going to determine if there might be any video at the airport or witnesses to the crash. They’ll certainly want to interview any witnesses or obtain any video,” Knudson said.

But perhaps the largest factor in this investigation will be their interviews with the three surviving passengers.

“We’ve found over the years, most people involved in these accidents are eager to help us out, but we do give them time to get in a place where they feel comfortable to talk with us,” Knudson said.

Those investigators are also remaining in close contact with the Hansen family who lost four generations of family members. A heartache the NTSB hopes to prevent in the future.

“If we find any sorts of safety issues specific to an airplane, an airport, a specific type of operation, we can potentially issue safety recommendations that would address that safety issue and hopefully reduce the likelihood of these types of accidents from occurring,” Knudson said.

If you or someone you know has any information that might be relevant to the plane crash investigation, you can reach out to the NTSB by sending an email to witness@ntsb.gov.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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