A small airplane that lost radio contact while flying from New York to Florida and went into Cuban airspace crashed in the island of Jamaica Friday afternoon.
According to NORAD, two F-15 fighter jets scrambled to investigate the unresponsive Socata TBM-700 that had been unresponsive since at least 10 a.m. after it had been traveling from Rochester, New York to Ft. Myers in Southwest Florida. No one from the plane had established radio contact as it continued flying through the Atlantic Ocean. The plane’s trajectory has since continued southbound, past Cuba and approached Jamaica before crashing.
The US fighter jets backed off once the plane kept going into Cuban airspace, however a visual examination by the fighter pilots of the aircraft showed fogged up windows on the plane, meaning the crew might be suffering from hypoxia. There is suspicion that the pilot was found slumped over his seat.
Fogged windows, according to NTSB experts, could indicate a drop in cabin air pressure, meaning the humans inside the Secata might be suffering from oxygen deprivation.
The TBM-700 fits 6 passengers, including the pilot; it’s a single engine aircraft. However, it’s unclear how many were aboard the ill-fated flight.
An expert who had spoken to MSNBC said the amount of fuel that was left inside the aircraft iwas contingent on the atmospheric conditions it’s experienced during flight.
“Given the fact that they were going from New York to Naples nonstop…the airplane could continue for another 30 to 60 minutes. Again, it all depends on the atmospheric conditions it’s encountering at 25,000 feet,” the official said.
Typically a human suffering from hypoxia will first experience difficulty thinking clearly before becoming unconscious.
A quick solution to increase oxygen levels in a plane of this sort is to drop down to the 10,000 feet level, but officials fear that because the plane was left on autopilot this might not happen.
It’s unknown if the plane went down because it ran out of fuel or some other problem caused it to crash.
Maj. Basil Jarrett of the Jamaican Defense Force said the plane went down about 14 miles northeast of Port Antonio and the military sent aircraft to investigate. There was no immediate information about the people on board.
The plane took off at 8:45 a.m. EDT from the Greater Rochester International Airport in New York, according to local officials. Air traffic controllers were last able to contact the pilot of the Socata TBM700, a high performance single-engine turboprop, at 10 a.m. EDT, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.
FlightAware identified the plane’s tail number as N900KN. FAA records show the plane is owned by a company based at the same address as a real estate firm in Rochester. The firm, Buckingham Properties, is owned by developer Larry Glazer, who also is president of the TBM Owners and Pilots Association.
A person who answered the phone at Buckingham Properties declined to comment. Glazer’s son Rick Glazer told The Associated Press: “I don’t have any comment about what’s going on at this time.”
According to Buckingham’s website, “Larry spends some of his spare time on the ground gardening around his house with his wife, Jane; and some in the sky flying his plane.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.