Safety officials release details into South Dakota plane crash near Chamberlain

Courtesy of National Transportation Safety Board.

CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. - Investigators have released details on a plane crash that killed nine members of an extended Idaho family.

National Transportation Safety officials say the plane carrying 12 people crashed Saturday shortly after taking off from Chamberlain. The family was heading home after a hunting trip.

Officials said the pilot filed a flight plan with the Federal Aviation Administration and received a clearance to fly direct from Chamberlain, a non-towered airport, to Idaho Falls, Idaho, with a planned departure time of 12:20 p.m. on Saturday.

The plane departed Chamberlain at 12:26 p.m. on Saturday. Officials said when the pilot did not activate the flight plan after departure, the FAA issued an alert for a missing airplane.

At 12:35 p.m., an AWOS-3 automated weather observation station at the Chamberlain airport recorded weather as follows: winds from north/northeast at 6 knots (7 mph), half a mile visibility with moderate snow and icing, low-level windshear, and clear air turbulence conditions with overcast skies.

Officials said the airplane departed on runway 31 and crashed in a field about 1 mile north of the airport. The Pilatus PC-12 airplane is not required to be equipped with a cockpit voice recorder or a flight data recorder. During their search throughout the week, investigators will be looking for avionics or engine monitoring equipment with non-volatile memory that could yield information relevant to the investigation.

Three NTSB investigators arrived at the accident site Monday afternoon after being delayed by inclement weather. Over the coming days they will work on documenting the airplane and wreckage pattern, examining its systems, flight controls, and engine. In addition, any witnesses to the crash will be interviewed. Interviews with the surviving passengers will also be requested.

Officials said investigators are expected to complete their report in Chamberlain by the weekend. A preliminary report, detailing the factual information developed at this early stage of the investigation, will be published in about two weeks.

The three survivors of the plane crash are in stable condition at a hospital.