NTSB to try to salvage plane in crash

HONOLULU (AP) – Crews will try to salvage the plane that crashed off Molokai after the submerged wreckage was spotted from a helicopter, the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday.

The agency previously said it seemed unlikely that the single-engine plane could be pulled out of the water. But NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said the plane was spotted Friday from a helicopter, about 400 to 500 yards off the north shore of Molokai.

“It’s important to look at the engine,” Weiss said.

Hawaii Health Director Loretta Fuddy was the sole fatality among the nine people aboard the Dec. 11 flight.

One passenger said the Cessna Grand Caravan lost power soon after takeoff, as the plane started to turn toward Honolulu. The pilot maneuvered a water landing on the plane’s belly, C. Phillip Hollstein Jr. said.

Fuddy didn’t seem injured or distressed after everyone got out of the plane and was bobbing in life jackets in the water, said Hollstein, who swam to shore.

An autopsy was conducted Friday. Weiss said the NTSB is awaiting the results from Maui County.

Makani Kai Air owner Richard Schuman has said he has no idea why the engine failed. The plane had no previous problems, he said.

A 200-foot recovery vessel will leave Honolulu Harbor tonight and crews will attempt to pull the plane out of the water Thursday morning, Weiss said, adding that the effort will be paid for by an insurance company. It’s not known how long the process would take.

While investigators believe it is the plane that was spotted, they will be certain once it’s out of the water. They also don’t know for sure if the plane will still be there.

“But we’re going to at least make the attempt,” Weiss said.

The NTSB has been able to investigate crashes even when an aircraft’s wreckage is not recoverable.