NTSB assigns investigator to lead TBM 900 crash probe

The US National Transportation Safety Board has assigned a lead investigator to examine the cause of a Daher-Socata TBM 900 crash off the coast of Jamaica on 5 September, but says it is unable to begin the probe until the wreckage has been located.

The seven-seat single-engined turboprop – registration N900KN – plunged into the sea 12nm (22km) off the coast of Jamaica, after flying hundreds of miles beyond its intended destination.

The occupants of the high-speed turboprop were US businessman and president of the TBM Owners and Pilots Association Larry Glazer and his wife.

Glazer was US launch customer for the TBM 900, having taken delivery of the fourth-generation TBM in March.

The aircraft was en route from Rochester, New York to Naples, Florida. It turned southeast over North Carolina, but made no further course changes, according to flight tracking services. After ignoring calls from air traffic control, two Boeing F-15s were scrambled by the US North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) to intercept and escort the unresponsive aircraft.

NORAD says the occupants of the aircraft did not respond to attempts by the F-15 pilots to communicate, citing “possible hypoxia”.

The fighters were later forced to break off the escort after the aircraft entered Cuban airspace. The TBM 900 was finally tracked descending and crashing at 14:15 local time, NORAD says.

The US Coast Guard and Jamaica Defence Force suspended their searches on 7 September, stating there was little hope of finding survivors or the wreckage.

Daher-Socata says it is unable to comment on the incident, but “is supporting the investigation under the supervision of the NTSB”.

The airframer unveiled the secretly developed TBM 900 last March as the latest version of the 25-year-old airframe.

The type is equipped with newly designed winglets, a five-blade composite propeller and a redesigned spinner, improving speed compared to the TBM 850 by 10kt to 330kt (611km/h) at 28,000ft, and range by 300nm to 1,730nm.