NTSB releases preliminary report on Lake Erie plane crash

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CLEVELAND — The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report on the plane that crashed into Lake Erie last month, killing all six people on board.

As the FOX 8 I TEAM first reported last week, the NTSB report issued Thursday night says pilot John Fleming received his certification to fly that type of aircraft just 21 days before the fatal crash.

The findings provide a timeline for the Dec. 29 crash, but do not indicate why the Cessna Citation 525 suddenly lost altitude and crashed just one minute after takeoff.

The report reads in part:

“An initial review of Air Traffic Control (ATC) transmissions between the pilot and the Midwest ATC Federal Contract Tower at BKL revealed that the pilot requested the IFR clearance at 2247, followed by the taxi clearance at 2251. At 2256, the pilot informed the BKL tower controller that he was holding short of the runway and ready for takeoff. The controller subsequently cleared the pilot for takeoff and instructed him to turn right to a heading of 330 degrees and maintain 2,000 feet msl after departure. The pilot acknowledged the clearance. After takeoff, the controller instructed the pilot to contact departure control; however, no further communications were received from the pilot. After multiple attempts to contact the pilot were unsuccessful, the controller initiated search and rescue procedures.”

Photos of 6 plane crash victims after plane disappeared in Lake Erie on Dec. 29, 2016Fleming, his wife, their two sons and their neighbors were all killed.

Airplane debris including the cockpit voice recorder was later recovered. The NTSB says a committee in Washington will listen to the recorder and transcribe it for the investigation into the cause of the crash.

“The resulting search and recovery effort was hampered by weather and lake conditions. Airplane debris, including the cockpit voice recorder, was ultimately located about 0.10 mile northeast of the final data point. The cockpit voice recorder was transferred to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory for readout. A detailed wreckage examination will be conducted once recovery operations have concluded.”