According to preliminary reports, the twin-engine plane that crashed in the Bahamas killing R&B singer Aaliyah and eight other passengers was significantly overloaded, The Associated Press reports.
A report from Bahamian investigators released Saturday by the National Transportation Safety Board found no signs of mechanical problems in the engine or airframe. The plane’s center of gravity, however, was located towards the back of the plane, indicating that excess weight may have played an important role in the crash.
“The total weight of the luggage, fuel on board at the time of the accident, plus the weight of the passengers showed that the total gross weight of the airplane was substantially exceeded,” the NTSB said in its report.
The maximum weight authorized at takeoff for the Cessna 402B is 6,300 pounds. The plane, which was carrying nine people, is only certified to carry six to eight people, including the pilot.
According to the report, the plane lifted off then crashed nosed down on the side of the runway.
Bahamian officials may ask U.S. authorities to subpoena the aircraft’s owner, Gilbert Chacon, to obtain maintenance records as well as the pilot’s training records, since the complete maintenance history of the airplane is not known.
Chacon owns the charter airline Blackhawk International Airways.
The report stated that neither Blackhawk nor Skystream, the plane’s registered owners, had a permit to operate commercial flights in the Bahamas. So far, Chacon has only communicated to Bahamian authorities through his attorney and has not produced the aircraft engine logbooks.
The charter aircraft crashed shortly after take-off from Marsh Harbour Airport on Aug. 25, killing the singer, seven of her crewmembers and the pilot. They were headed to Opa-Locka, Fla. following a video shoot.