NTSB releases preliminary report into fatal PC-12 crash

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The US National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report into the fatal crash on 7 June of a Pilatus PC-12 carrying a family of six.

The group departed St Lucie County International airport, Fort Pierce, Florida at 12.05 local time en route to Freeman Field airport, Junction City, Kansas - but the single-engined turboprop crashed half an hour later into a swamp in Lakeland, Florida.

Soon after departure, the pilot of the privately operated PC-12 - registration N950KA - was warned of a "sizeable area of precipitation northwest of Lakeland" by a Miami-based air traffic controller, states the report.

The pilot - who at that time was flying at 24,700ft (7,500m) - was cleared to fly a new heading of 320˚ to avoid the weather. In the proceeding seconds, the aircraft climbed 400ft while flying in a west-northwesterly direction, states the report.

During that time, the PC-12 also changed course to the right, before beginning a descent, losing nearly 15,000ft of altitude in one minute. The aircraft then turned to the south and then to the northeast, and continued on its course until it crashed into a remote area near Lake Wales at 12.35 local time.

The NTSB says the pilot of a nearby aircraft heard a mayday call about one minute before hearing the emergency locator transmitter signal.

The PC-12's wings, elevator and horizontal stabiliser were separated from the main wreckage site.