The National Transportation Safety Board said Sunday it has launched an official investigation into Saturday’s mid-air collision of two vintage WWII plans that left six people dead — but it’s going to take a while to get any answers.
“This is the beginning of a long process,” Michael Graham, an NTSB board member, said at a press briefing in Texas. “We will not jump to any conclusions and the information that I will provide today is preliminary.
“A preliminary report of the accident is expected in four to six weeks,” Graham said. “However, a full investigation lasts 12 to 18 months before a final report is released.”
The two vintage planes — a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a single-pilot Bell P-63 Kingcobra — collided at the Wings Over Dallas air show, leaving stunned spectators in disbelief as the wreckage burst into flames.
Authorities identified two of the victims as longtime pilot Len Root, 66, and Terry Barker, 67, a former American Airlines pilot who also served on the Keller, Texas, city council, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Sunday.
Graham said both aircraft were owned by American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum.
He said one challenge for NTSB investigators is that the planes were not equipped with flight recorders commonly known as a “black box.”
But Graham said the investigation would be methodical and systematic, with staffers examining “airworthiness, operations, air traffic control and aircraft performance.”
Debris from the deadly crash was secured by police and turned over to the agency, he said, which will use it to try to reconstruct the tragedy and determine a cause.
“We are coordinating the wreckage to be removed to a secure location to lay out both aircraft and examine the airframe and engines as part of the NTSB standard investigative process,” he said.
Graham said the NTSB is also attempting to gather as much spectator video of the midair tragedy to help in piecing together the collision.
Anyone with footage is urged to send the clips to [email protected], he said.