NTSB: banner plane crash still under investigation

A banner plane crashed into the ocean around the 4300 block of South Ocean Boulevard in North Myrtle Beach, July 18. Divers found the plane and placed a buoy in the ocean to mark its location.

The National Transportation Safety Board says more investigation is needed to determine what caused a banner plane to ditch into the ocean off North Myrtle Beach last summer.

The NTSB released its preliminary report on the accident Tuesday.

The report says on the morning of July 18, the Piper PA-18-150 experienced a total loss of engine power and was substantially damaged when it went down. The unnamed pilot sustained minor injuries, the report says.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, the plane was flying near the shoreline at an altitude of about 500 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, when the engine suddenly lost all power. The pilot was unable to restart the engine and did a forced landing into the water.

The pilot managed to escape before the plane sank to a depth of about 30 feet, according to the report.

The plane's fuel tanks were full.

The NTSB says the plane was recovered on July 22. It sustained substantial damage to both wings and the tail section. The report says the initial examination of the plane's engine by an FAA inspector did not show any catastrophic mechanical malfunctions, but the engine was held back for further examination.

The preliminary report does not suggest a cause for the engine failure.

Watch the July 18 story here.