Friday, September 05, 2014
WASHINGTON (WABC) —
A private plane that went off course over the Atlantic Ocean and stopped responding to air traffic controllers Friday has crashed into the water 14 miles off the coast of Jamaica, government officials said.
A spokesman for the Jamaican military said the U.S.-based plane with an unresponsive pilot has crashed in the ocean north of the Caribbean island.
Maj. Basil Jarrett of the Jamaican Defense Force says the plane went down Friday about 14 miles northeast of Port Antonio. Jarrett said the military has sent aircraft to investigate. There was no immediate information about the people on board.
Air traffic controllers were last able to contact the pilot of the Socata TBM700, a high performance single-engine turboprop, at 10 a.m. EDT, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The plane took off at 8:45 a.m. EDT from the Greater Rochester International Airport. The pilot, who was not identified, had filed a flight plan with the FAA to fly from Rochester, N.Y., to Naples, Fla.
The Coast Guard said three people were on board the plane. The Federal Aviation Administration said it had not confirmed the number of people on board.
The fighter jets were launched at 11:30 a.m. EDT Friday, said Preston Schlachter, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command & U.S. Northern Command. Flightaware, an aviation tracking website, showed the plane over the Caribbean at about 2 p.m. EDT. It crashed around 2:15 p.m.
According to a NORAD spokesperson, the pilot was seen unresponsive. Fog has been seen on the aircraft’s windows which is why it’s suspected that all aboard are unconscious. Hypoxia is suspected.
A post on the NORAD website reads:
“The fighter pilots visually verified that the pilot was unresponsive and slumped over the controls. The aircraft continues to be followed by NORAD jets. NORAD continues to monitor the situation in close coordination with the FAA.”
Based on the plane’s tail number, the plane is registered to a Rochester, N.Y., entity called “New 51LG LLC.”
The FAA released a statement saying the agency had tracked the plane. “The pilot has not been responding to radio calls since 10 am EDT,” the statement said.
The plane was registered with the FAA.
The incident marks the second time in less than a week that private pilot has become unresponsive during a flight. On Saturday, a pilot lost consciousness and his plane drifted into restricted airspace over the nation’s capital. Fighter jets were also launched in that case and stayed with the small aircraft until it ran out of fuel and crashed Saturday into the Atlantic.