NTSB releases preliminary report on deadly Greensburg plane crash

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The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report into the deadly Greensburg plane crash that killed four people.

According to the report, the runway lights were not on when pilot Don Horan tried to land his Piper 46 on Dec. 2. The NTSB said the lights are pilot controlled. A post-accident check of the system showed the runaway lights were functioning properly. The report also said the plane and engine experienced no mechanical problems.

Horan, his wife Barbara and two friends—Stephen and Denise Butz—died in the crash, which happened just before 6:20 p.m. The couples were returning from a vacation in Destin, Fla.

According to the NTSB report, a friend of Horan who was also flying in the same conditions arrived about 30 minutes before Horan’s plane, attempting a landing but aborting it. That pilot later diverted to another airport.

The NTSB described weather conditions at the time as foggy and misting.

Air traffic controllers cleared Horan to land at around 6:06 p.m., when the plane was about four miles away from the airport. A witness saw the plane dip from the cloud at about 300 feet with no change in pitch or engine noise—clues that the plane was beginning to land. At 6:19 p.m., that witness called 911 and the plane crashed while attempting to touch down at the Greensburg Municipal Airport.

Air traffic controllers contacted police about 10 minutes later to report that the pilot had not completed landing and that the plane had gone down.

The plane skidded 328 feet before stopping. Crews located the plane and four victims at 11:05 p.m.

Investigators recovered three devices with personal data from the crash site. An NTSB lab in Washington, D.C., is analyzing the information and will include it in a final report.