NTSB releases preliminary report in Greensburg plane crash investigation

Plane was functioning properly, investigators say

GREENSBURG, Ind. - The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report Wednesday into the investigation of the fatal Greensburg crash that killed four people.

The report said the Piper PA-46 crashed while trying to land at the Greensburg Municipal Airport.

Don Horan, of Greensburg, was flying the plane that crashed on Dec. 2 as he was flying back from Florida with his wife, Barb, and another couple, Stephen and Denise Butz.

The report indicated that another pilot had flown the same flight in a similarly equipped plane 30 minutes earlier. The pilot attempted to perform the same approach but decided instead to divert his aircraft to the Columbus airport, where he landed safely.

Air traffic controllers in Indianapolis spoke with the pilot who crashed when he was just four miles away from his scheduled landing.

The weather was foggy and misty, but the lights on the runway were functioning properly, and the plane and engine were in working order NTSB officials said.

Previous witness reports said that the runway was not lighted, most likely because the pilot didn't turn them on.

Investigators also said they recovered three personal data devices. The devices were sent to a lab in Washington, D.C. The contents of the devices could be released in the final report, officials said.

"I think what we're looking at, basically, is weather," said Tony Scott, pilot for SkyCam 6.

Scott said landing in conditions in which you can only rely on your in-flight instruments is technical and difficult.

"When you're on an instrument approach like that, your hands are really full," he said. "Everything needs to be set up perfect for that approach."

Scott said there are numerous things that could have gone wrong or distracted Horan in the final seconds. Instrument settings many have been entered incorrectly or an instrument could have failed at the last moment. Several factors may have combined to cause the crash.

A final report is expected to be released within six to nine months.

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