US authorities appear to have no intention of changing the rules about the weather and light conditions in which private pilots without instrument ratings (IR) may fly, despite the crash last week of John F Kennedy Jr's Piper Saratoga II.
The investigation into what caused the accident will centre on why the six-seat aircraft made an unrecoverable, rapid, descent into the sea off Massachusetts on the US east coast, killing Kennedy, the pilot, and his two passengers.
Neither the US Federal Aviation Administration nor the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is leading the accident investigation, are ready to take a second look at pilot licensing requirements. For pilots without an IR, the leading cause of fatal accidents in the USA is visual flight into instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). Kennedy, a novice pilot, was not instrument-rated, but entered IMC before the crash.
Radar data show the aircraft descended at an average rate of 4,700ft/min (23.9m/s) shortly after starting its descent for Martha's Vineyard.
The US Air Line Pilots Association has called for improved emergency locator transmitters (ELT) following the delay in locating Kennedy's aircraft. ELTS, which are required on general aviation aircraft, are designed to activate on impact and broadcast an electronic signal.