ATLANTA (AP) — A pilot told air traffic controllers that fuel pumps aboard the plane were failing before it plunged to the ground and caught fire near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, killing six people from Mississippi, according to a new report from federal aviation investigators.
In a preliminary report on the crash released early Thursday, the National Transportation Safety Board said the pilot initially reported one fuel pump failure and asked to be diverted to the nearest airport.
Then, when the plane was about 10 miles from Tuscaloosa's airport, the pilot reported that the airplane lost "the other fuel pump," the report states.
The twin-engine Piper struck trees and crashed near the Tuscaloosa suburb of Northport on Aug. 14.
The six people killed had taken off from Kissimmee Gateway Airport in Florida, and were headed to Oxford University Airport in Oxford, Mississippi, before it was diverted to Tuscaloosa because of the fuel pump emergency, the NTSB said.
Friends, relatives and officials identified the dead as dentists Jason Farese and Lea Farese; dentist Michael Perry and his wife, Kim Perry, a nurse practitioner at the University of Mississippi; and dentist Austin Poole and his wife, Angie Poole.
The NTSB is continuing to investigate, and a final report on the cause of the crash is not expected for several months.