I-Team finds out what’s next in plane crash investigation

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The FOX 8 I-Team is uncovering what happens next in the investigation into the missing plane which crashed last week in Lake Erie.

As more of the plane is recovered from the water, the focus shifts toward solving the mystery of what caused the crash.

However, investigations into plane crashes in water can be more difficult.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will examine all of the pieces of the wreckage including, of course, the cockpit voice recorder found Friday afternoon.

Investigators will see what they can tell about the plane's overall operations. Did anything malfunction? And what about the pilot? What were his qualifications and experience? And were there any drugs or alcohol or medical factors?

The NTSB will also look back at the weather. The plane crashed on a nasty, cold night.

The NTSB will also review what happened at Burke Lakefront Airport. The pilot had the option to have the plane de-iced or take off without that. And what did airport security cameras capture when the plane took off? What about when it came in for a landing in the first place?

The NTSB says investigators are prepared to figure out what happened when a plane goes down in the water. But these kinds of incidents can be more "challenging" than crashes on land. For instance, when a plane crashes in water, there is no damage to trees or buildings which might help indicate the angle of the plane as it crashed.

Meantime, this investigation has a lot of similarities to one after a small plane crashed in Lake Erie in 2008. The NTSB ultimately concluded the pilot in that case crashed after getting disoriented in the darkness over Lake Erie.

The NTSB may issue a preliminary report in this latest case in the next couple of weeks. But a final report may be 12-18 months away.

Continuing coverage, here.