ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary investigation report after a small plane crashed on Interstate 26 near Asheville in December, injuring a flight instructor and student pilot.
The Diamond DA-40 took off from Knoxville and was heading back to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. According to the NTSB report, the flight instructor and pilot were flying a cross-country night flight when they felt the plane “shudder” and lose engine power. The NTSB said the flight instructor took control and tried to restart the engine, which did restart briefly but lost power again a few moments later.
The aircraft began to fill up with smoke before the engine lost power a final time, and the flight instructor then made a “forced landing” on the interstate. The NTSB said the plane hit an energized power line right before hitting the ground and catching fire.
The flight instructor suffered minor injuries and the student pilot was seriously injured, according to the report.
The FAA confirmed that the plane went down onto I-26 at around 8:15 p.m. It said the plane was a single-engine Diamond DA-40. The plane was registered to Diamond Aircraft Sales USA, Inc. and was being operated by Lift Training Academy, according to the FAA. The FAA also posted a preliminary report on the crash, calling it an accident and saying the plane was destroyed.
I-26 was shut down for hours as emergency crews responded. NCDOT said the road reopened the next day around 9:30 a.m., and one westbound lane remained closed for pavement repairs.