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Caravan crashes during test flight, wing separation likely

A Seattle news station reported that the NTSB’s initial investigation found the aircraft’s right wing was found about 200 yards from the main fuselage, which may indicate it had separated from the aircraft before the crash.

The purpose of the test flight was to collect baseline aircraft performance information before the installation of a Raisbeck modification. According to FlightAware, the aircraft took off from Renton Municipal Airport at 9:24 a.m. local time; the last data point was recorded at 10:19 a.m. and shows the aircraft at 9,100 feet.

Raisbeck President Hal Chrisman explained in a statement that this kind of test flight “is a standard industry practice that allows aviation engineering firms to establish baseline aircraft performance under a highly structured flight profile to later measure and compare the change in performance after any proposed modifications are installed. The aircraft was in this initial testing phase and had not yet been modified in any way.”

The company’s release said the aircraft was piloted by two experienced test pilots, both with over 10,000 flight hours. The crew also included a flight test director and instrumentation engineer.

The Snohomish County Medical Examiner identified Nathan Precup, 33, Nate Lachendro, 49, Scott Brenneman, 52, and David Newton, 67, as the crewmembers killed in the crash. No one on the ground was injured.

The NTSB expects to release its preliminary report in two to three weeks. It could be one to two years before a final cause determination from the agency is completed.

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