LAFAYETTE, La. (CBS) — Determining the cause of the plane crash in Louisiana on Saturday that killed five people will likely be a difficult and slow process, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. No distress call was sent from the doomed plane, and the lack of a flight data recorder and the poor condition of the wreckage are combining to make the job a complicated one.
“The avionics equipment on board the aircraft was pretty badly damaged,” NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg said at a press conference Sunday. “There is no flight data recorder that we know of at this time. We’ll obviously be looking at that, but at this point, there’s not a lot to go on.”
Landsberg said the lack of a flight data recorder “complicates the job tremendously.”
“The wreckage is in pretty tough shape,” he continued. “Between impact damage and fire damage, there’s not a lot to work with.”
Investigations can take 12 to 18 months, Landsberg said.
According to the NTSB, the plane took off from Lafayette Regional Airport and reached an altitude of 900 feet before making a left-descending turn. Landsberg said no distress call was made, but air traffic control issued a low altitude warning when the plane dipped below 700 feet.
NTSB Air Safety Investigator Dr. Jennifer Rodi estimates the plane was in the air for less than a minute before it crashed.
“We’ll be looking very carefully at the pilot’s qualifications, the training that they had, medical certification and also the history on the aircraft and its maintenance records,” Landsberg stressed.
The plane was headed for Atlanta where the passengers were going to watch the Peach Bowl. Five people were killed in the crash, including Carley McCord, the daughter-in-law of LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger. One passenger survived and was in critical condition.