An investigation into the cause of a single-engine plane crash that claimed the lives of two New York men Friday in Moffat County could take as long as nine months to complete, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday.
"It's not a quick turnaround, and it shouldn't be," NTSB air safety investigator Jennifer Kaiser said. "It's important you take your time so as not to miss anything."
On Friday, oilfield workers in Sweetwater County, Wyo., reported the plane crash in western Moffat County, near the Wyoming border.
The Moffat County Coroner's Office has identified the two passengers as Sergio Sevarese, 48, and Ivan Luini, 46, both of New York.
The plane was en route from Oakland, Calif., to Lincoln, Neb., and crashed near Moffat County Road 10N.
In an attempt to determine the cause of the crash, Kaiser said the NTSB will begin analyzing wreckage recovered from the crash site today. The NTSB has also ordered autopsy and toxicology reports -- a standard practice on all crashes -- of the two men aboard the plane.
Officials reported Saturday that inclement weather -- high winds and heavy rains -- may have played a role in the crash. Kaiser said the pilots reported to air traffic controllers that they were experiencing ice and turbulence, and were unable to maintain altitude.
"At this point, I have no reason to believe there were engine or airframe abnormalities," Kaiser said.
As part of the investigation into the plane crash, officials will pull a complete transcript of communication between the pilots and air traffic controllers, and information from on-board computers, Kaiser said.
She said a Pacific cold front that moved into the area was "very aggressive" and made air travel difficult throughout the state.
"It caused issues all over the place for people on the ground and in the air," Kaiser said.
Weather is also believed to have played a role in a weekend crash that claimed the lives of four people near Telluride. Four bodies have been recovered from the single-engine plane that crashed on Wilson Peak about 10 miles southwest of the town, the Associated Press reported.
The airplane that crashed in Moffat County incorporated an airframe parachute, which Kaiser said was deployed at a "very low altitude." The parachute drug the airplane across 2 1/2 miles of terrain, causing it to fall apart, the investigator said.
Before certifying the cause of the accident, Kaiser's report must be signed off on by a supervisor and five-member review board in Washington, D.C.