Plane floated 25 minutes off Molokai

HONOLULU – The National Transportation Safety Board says in a preliminary accident report that a small commercial plane that crash-landed in the ocean off Kalaupapa, Molokai, floated for about 25 minutes before sinking.

The NTSB said in its brief preliminary report that it took Maui Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard rescuers about 80 minutes to reach the pilot and eight passengers after they put on life preservers and exited the plane following the crash at 3:22 p.m. Dec. 11.

Department of Health Director Loretta Fuddy, 65, died in the crash. Maui police have not released results of an autopsy to determine how she died.

One passenger, a 70-year-old Kailua, Oahu, man, swam to shore.

The plane had taken off about two minutes before the accident and was heading from Kalaupapa to Honolulu International Airport, according to the NTSB report. The pilot reported that shortly after takeoff, a loud bang was heard and there was a total loss of power.

The NTSB report released Monday largely confirmed previous accounts by passengers and the plane’s pilot. Those aboard the Makani Kai Air flight from Kalaupapa to Honolulu say they heard a loud bang, then the plane lost power. The pilot glided the single-engine Cessna into the water.

The plane’s engine was recovered during a salvage operation about a week after the crash.