Reporting Joan Murray
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HOLLYWOOD (CBSMiami/CBS4) – Investigators with FAA will continue their probe Thursday into just what caused the pilot of a small plane to make a crash landing on the Florida Turnpike.
Packed on the back of a flatbed truck Thursday morning in Miami Gardens, federal inspectors gave it an initial going over as it was it partially dismantled for a trip to a secure hangar in Ft. Pierce where it will undergo a full examination.
The National Transportation Safety Board’s initial findings were that an engine failure forced the pilot to make the emergency landing.
“We did recover a data card which will be sent to our Washington lad, they’ll read the data recorded from the airplane,” said Jeff Kennedy, head of the NTSB’s Miami office.
The NTSB’s investigation into the crash could take more than a year.
The eight seat single engine Socata plane came down on the highway near Hollywood Boulevard on Wednesday after; the result snarled traffic for more than five hours. Video from Chopper 4 showed the front end of the plane cracked in half where its nose collided with the median wall which separates the north and southbound lanes.
The pilot, 49-year old Alain Jaubert from France and his passenger, 50-year old Donato Pinto from Aventura, were both taken to Memorial Regional Hospital. Both men suffered two broken vertebra each.
“They’re in great spirits,” said Dr. Rafael Sanchez, “Very happy to be alive, very happy.”
Sanchez said at this point they feel the men won’t need surgery and should recover fully with therapy.
“It all depends on their pain tolerance and what they are able to do,” said Sanchez. “We will address the issues, they will go to physical therapy and we’ll go from there.”
Jaubert works for Socata, the plane’s French manufacturer, and Pinto is a technician for the company. This was the plane’s first flight since it had undergone maintenance.
According to FAA spokesperson Kathleen Bergen, the plane was returning to North Perry Airport from Opa Locka Airport when it landed on the Turnpike.
The plane is registered to SV Leasing Company of Florida, which is based in Miami. SV Leasing said the plane is usually kept at Ft. Lauderdale Executive Airport, but wasn’t there because the plane was having work done to it.
Luckily, no one on the ground was injured even though the plane hit the always busy Turnpike.
“It was a tremendous effort on the pilots’ part to bring it down and not get anybody hurt. Kudos to him,” said Hollywood Fire/Rescue Chief Virgil Fernandez.
Click here for a gallery of the plane crash and the traffic nightmare it caused.