A private U.S. single-engine plane that flew for hours with an unresponsive pilot crashed north of Jamaica after crossing over Cuba, a Jamaican military official said.
A New York county official has confirmed that New York state real estate developer Larry Glazer and his wife, Jane, of Rochester, were among those killed. He was reported to have his pilot’s licence, but it’s not known whether he was at the controls of the Socata TBM-700. The plane was owned by Glazer’s company in Rochester, N.Y.
The high performance turboprop had departed Rochester at 8:45 a.m. ET and was supposed to land in Naples, Fla., shortly after 2 p.m. ET., according to its filed flight plan.
However, the plane’s occupants did not respond to attempts to communicate, and the aircraft was detected flying southeast of Florida, Norad said. Air traffic controllers were last able to contact the pilot at 10 a.m., the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.
Two U.S. air force F-15 fighter jets had been following the plane, but ended the chase after the private plane entered Cuban airspace and continued south in a straight line, according to Norad (North American Aerospace Defence Command).
Earlier, Norad cited in its Twitter feed “possible hypoxia” as the reason the pilot was unresponsive. Hypoxia is a condition in which the body is deprived of adequate oxygen.
“The pilot could have become ill. He could have had a heart attack. He could have passed away in flight,” Arthur Rosenberg, an American pilot and aviation attorney, told CBC News.
The TBM-700 can seat up to seven people, but the FAA said it had not confirmed the number of people who were on board when the aircraft went down 22 kilometres northeast of Port Antonio, off eastern Jamaica.
FlightAware.com identified the plane’s tail number as N900KN. FAA records show the plane, a model that sells new for $3.5 million US in its standard version, was owned by a company based at the same address as Glazer’s real estate firm, Buckingham Properties.