The Jacksonville-bound plane which crashed off the coast of Brunswick, Georgia started breaking apart while still in flight, according to preliminary findings from the National Transportation Safety Board.
The report details information from multiple sources, including inspection, eye witness accounts and technological data. The exact cause of the breakdown and ultimate crash has still not been determined.
28-year-old Andres Santiago Lopez of Jacksonville and 31-year-old Adam Christopher Griffis of Alabama both died in the crash. The NTSB says their bodies were found still strapped in to the wreckage when it was pulled from the water several days after the crash.
The report shows the plane left Concord Regional Airport in North Carolina at 3:51 PM Monday, March 24. The pair had flown to Concord earlier and were to return to Jacksonville Executive Airport at Craig after changing planes. At 4:40 PM, the Air Traffic Control Center in Jacksonville told the plane to descend from its 8,000 ft altitude and the pilots acknowledged the command. Four minutes later, radar data showed the plane 300 ft above ground level. That was the last reading from radar and there was no further voice recording received either.
Eyewitnesses told the NTSB they heard a “thud” or “explosion” and saw debris falling from the plane prior to the crash.
The complete investigation could take six months to a year to complete.