Now that the Piper Malibu Marage that went down in the Red River Thursday morning has been recovered, the long and arduous investigation into what happened will begin.
The single-engine airplane took off at 10:37 a.m. Thursday and was retrieved from the Red River at 11:40 p.m. Saturday, loaded on to a waiting barge and was secured at midnight, in order to begin its journey to a hanger at an undisclosed location.
Todd Thoma, Caddo Parish coroner, and his team were on the scene from the early morning hours until almost 2 a.m. in order to personally take custody of the remains of pilot Ricky Lennard and passenger Scott Hollis, who died int the crash.
Agents with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were in Shreveport by Friday. They were joined along with a representative from Piper Aircraft, the plane’s manufacturer and Pratt-Whitney, the manufacturer of the engine Lennard had put in the airplane in 2016.
According to Mike Folkerts, NTSB Air Safety investigator, agents will look at different factors that will help them understand what might prevent future accidents. They’ll examine the aircraft for air worthiness, the engine, will conduct interviews and also factor in the human factor.
Folkerts said a preliminary report could be issued as soon as mid-week, but a final report won’t be available for at least 12 months, and the probable cause of the accident two-to-three months after the final report is released.
The early investigation indicates the pilot, who was instrument rated, filed flight plan from Downtown Airport to Vernon, Texas. He took off at 10:37 a.m. and flew one minutes.
The only abnormality was that the airplane took two 360-degree left turns, then turned right and went into a steep descent into the river, Folkerts said.