Aviation experts say NTSB has challenging work ahead following deadly plane crash

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is on the ground with crews on Whidbey Island, and in Mukilteo, as they begin to investigate the deadly floatplane crash that claimed 10 lives near Mutiny Bay.

A group of seven people were sent to the Pacific Northwest to dig into the incident.

FOX 13 has been digging into publicly available information to get a better idea of what they’ll be looking at when they arrive.

Jason Winters, the pilot, had been with Northwest Seaplanes since 2003. According to a post on the company’s Facebook page, he received his license in 1993.

According to aviation experts, the NTSB will meticulously look at all the available information to determine what could have led up to the crash.


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On Monday, the U.S. Coast Guard noted that the owner of the charter company noticed a slight diversion in the plane's path before it dropped off the radar. Between the time that deviation was made, and the crash, they had tried to radio the plane but had not heard back.

A boater, who did not want to be identified, noted that the impact of the crash was so strong that it sent a "water column" into the air for roughly 10 seconds – he noted that he didn’t see the initial crash, but had turned to see the devastation.

Those types of details, along with any historical information and/or debris that can be salvaged will be important to crews investigating.

Mike Slack, an aviation lawyer with Slack Davis Sanger, said the crews will also need to look at Winters. That includes any historical information on his health, medication, and potentially his state of mind. Slack said those things are important, because in rare instances pilots have taken down planes on purpose.

"While (those situations) are unusual, it’ll be on the NTSB checklist to consider if they can’t otherwise explain if the airplane was under control," explained Slack. "It appears to be under control – why was the pilot doing what they were doing?"

That reasoning could be anything from malfunctioning equipment, to a health issue – whether Winters was incapacitated at the time of the crash.

Winters' wife released a statement about her husband’s death late Tuesday, reading in part:

"Jason was a loving father, partner to his spouse and a friend to many. We are devastated by the sudden and tragic passing of his life and all of those on board."


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