Recovery work on plane wreck will begin today

The attempt to recover the wreckage of a Makani Kai Air plane that crashed off Kalaupapa was expected to begin this morning, company owner Richard Schuman said Tuesday morning.

In an interview with The Maui News, he said a salvage ship would depart Tuesday evening for Kalaupapa, arriving in eight or nine hours and working today to recover the Cessna Grand Caravan that crashed Dec. 11.

“If everything goes well, the aircraft will be back in Honolulu Thursday morning,” he said. “That’s the plan.”

Nine people were aboard the plane when it lost engine power and the pilot executed a landing into the ocean about a half-mile off Kalaupapa, police said. State Department of Health Director Loretta Fuddy, who was among passengers, died.

An autopsy was performed on Fuddy on Friday, but Maui police were not releasing the results Tuesday. County spokesman Rod Antone said Tuesday that he has been told by the police department that the autopsy is not available at this time.

“I don’t have a timeline” on the release of the results, he said.

Fuddy’s body was flown to Honolulu on Monday. Her funeral is scheduled for Saturday, The Associated Press said.

Schuman said the decision was made the day after the plane went down to try to recover it. The plane was spotted from a helicopter.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said.

Schuman said that he has been speaking regularly with investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, which is in the beginning stages of its investigation into the crash.

“We know what happened,” Schuman said. “We just don’t know why.”

Schuman told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the airline was “very proud” of the way the pilot handled the belly landing in rough waters and made sure everyone was out of the aircraft safely with a life jacket.

The pilot, Clyde Kawasaki, told The Associated Press on Tuesday in a phone interview from his Kapolei home that one of the first things he did was climb into the cockpit of a similar airplane.

“I got back into the airplane but did not go for a flight.” he said.

“I guess it’s part of the healing process,” he said.

Flying again will require waiting for medical clearances, but Kawasaki said he is eager to get back into the sky.

“It’s a very comfortable environment for me,” he said. “Eventually, I will.”

Kawasaki, 60, hit his head on the control panel during the landing after the Makani Kai Air flight took off from Kalaupapa and quickly lost power.

He declined to discuss the crash.

Kawasaki will be welcomed back on the job when he wants to start flying again, Schuman told The Associated Press.