NTSB to look at engine maintenance records in fatal plane crash

by: Tom Regan Updated:

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DAWSON COUNTY, Ga. —

An investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday evening the federal agency will scrutinize aircraft maintenance history and other possible factors, including weather and pilot error, as potential causes in a plane crash that killed a metro Atlanta man Monday evening.

The aircraft, a six-seat Piper Malibu single-engine plane, was en route from Morristown, N.J., to DeKalb-Peachtree Airport when it lost communication with air traffic controllers around 7 p.m. Monday.

The aircraft clipped trees before crashing into a heavily wooded area off Auraria Road near Georgia 400 in Dawson County.

"The wreckage was spread out over about a thousand yards and we are in the process of recovering it today and tomorrow," said NTBS Investigator in Charge Heidi Moats.

Moats said investigators will not speculate on the cause of the crash, nor release the name of the pilot who was killed. No passengers were on board.

Channel 2's Tom Regan spoke to neighbors, including one man who said a half dozen parts from the plane fell off onto his property moments before the crash. NTSB investigators collected the pieces for examination.

"They found a control flap, and tail piece. Evidently it came apart at the upper end of my lake above my house and landed on the other side of the road," neighbor Joe Anderson told Regan.

Anderson's father said he heard apparent engine problems before the crash.

"It was really loud. It sounded like it was trying to pull up. You could hear him gas it, and put the throttle down. Then everything went quiet, and then just a thump," Laland Anderson said.

Both men said it was fortunate the plane didn't crash into a home, but they feel sympathy for the family of the pilot.

"It's bad when somebody dies. I'm sure there's people that loved him and who are going to miss him now," Anderson said.

The NTSB said a primary report on the crash will be released in about a week, but determining the official cause could take up to a year.