NTSB: Pilot disorientation likely caused fatal 2019 crash
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Pilot disorientation is listed as a probable cause of the 2019 small plane crash that killed five people in south Louisiana.
The Advocate reports that the National Transportation Safety Board report on the crash said the pilot likely experienced “spatial disorientation” as he took off from the Lafayette airport in cloudy, low-visibility conditions.
“These weather conditions were conducive to the development of spatial disorientation,” the NTSB wrote.
The Dec. 28, 2019, crash killed five people. Victims included the pilot, 51-year-old Ian Biggs, 51, and 30-year-old Carley McCord, a sports broadcaster who was the daughter-in-law of former LSU football offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger Sr.
Other passengers killed in the crash were Robert Vaughn Crisp II, 59; Gretchen Vincent, 51; and her son, Michael Walker Vincent, 15.
Those aboard were headed to the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
The Piper Cheyenne twin-engine turboprop plane was owned by Global Data Systems and Southern Lifestyle Development.
A surviving passenger told investigators the plane had “‘pitched up like the pilot was trying to get above or over the clouds’” and that a “‘harder than normal pitching movement’” had occurred.
“Thus, the pilot had likely become spatially disoriented at this point in the initial climb due to the lack of visual references and the airplane’s increasing pitch attitude,” the report states. “Another indication that the pilot had become spatially disoriented was the airplane’s continuing and tightening turn to the left away from the intended course.”
The report said there was no evidence found of instrument or structural problems that would have caused the crash.