We're going to have to wait a little longer to find out if an overloaded plane was behind the crash that killed Aaliyah and eight others.

At a National Transportation Safety Board press conference Thursday, an official said investigators had wrapped up their field work in the Bahamas but their probe was ongoing.

According to Randy Butler, flight operations inspector at the Civil Aviation Department in the Bahamas and the investigation's point man, no problems were found with the engines of the Cessna 402B. Because eyewitnesses said they heard an engine sputter and saw the plane veer to the left just seconds after taking off, there was speculation that the left engine died, triggering the fatal plunge that took the lives of the 22-year-old popster and her entourage.

Butler says the plane's two propellers have been sent back to the United States to be examined.

He also refused to comment on widespread reports that too much cargo contributed to the crash. Both NBC's Nightly News and Reuters quoted unnamed sources close to the investigation as saying the plane, which has a maximum takeoff weight of 6,300 pounds, was overloaded by 700 pounds to 1,500 pounds. Shortly before takeoff, baggage handlers and the pilot reportedly warned the passengers that the plane was overstuffed, but the passengers refused to leave any luggage or equipment behind.

Butler says its premature to blame the crash on too much baggage just yet. He says they have weighed all the wreckage, but still need to recover and weigh one bag from a swamp near the crash site and calculate the weights of all those on board before reaching a conclusion.

Butler also says investigators haven't yet determined why Luis Morales was behind the controls of the ill-fated flight. The 30-year-old pilot, who died in the crash, wasn't authorized to fly the Cessna. And just 12 days before the crash, Morales was in a Broward County, Florida, courtroom, pleading no contest to possessing crack, trafficking stolen airplane parts, theft and driving with a suspended license. He was sentenced to three years' probation. The operator of the charter, Blackhawk International Airways, has been cited four times since 1997 for various safety violations, including improper plane maintenance and failure to follow mandated drug-screening procedures.

Meanwhile, the full details of Aaliyah's funeral have been announced. According to the manager of the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home, a private family service will take place Friday at 10 a.m. at New York's St. Ignatius Loyola Parish.

The Campbell Funeral Home is known for arranging celebrity services, including those for John Lennon, Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis and the Notorious B.I.G.

A public memorial will be held at Cipriani's restaurant on 42nd Street from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and will feature a continuous loop of Aaliyah's videos, performances and music. Virgin Records says, "Fans are encouraged and invited to attend and pay tribute to Aaliyah's life and career and mourn this great loss."

  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share