Unresponsive TBM-900 aircraft crashes off Jamaica

A single-engine turbo-prop aircraft that was pursued by two NORAD F-15 fighter jets after it failed to respond to radio calls has crashed off the coast of Jamaica, officials said on Friday. A Jamaican military spokesman told the Associated Press that the aircraft went down approximately 14 miles northeast of Port Antonio.

The aircraft, a Socata TBM-900, was piloted by Larry Glazer, a real estate developer who also serves as president of the TBM Owners and Pilots Association. Glazer and his wife, Jane, were reportedly the only occupants on board the aircraft.

The aircraft attracted attention after it failed to respond to air traffic controllers around 10 a.m. EST. It was on a flightplan from Rochester, New York, to Naples, Florida but flew hundreds of miles off course.

Once pursued by NORAD’s jets, the aircraft’s pilot was observed to be unconscious and slumped over in the cockpit. NORAD suspects that the occupants may have suffered from hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation caused by rapid changes in cabin pressure. Condensation was observed on the aircraft’s windows.

FlightAware identified the plane’s tail number as N900KN. The Socata TBM-900 is built in France and retails for about US$3.5 million. It carries up to seven people and has been in production since 1988.

This incident is the second in less than a week that a private pilot has become unresponsive during a flight. On Saturday, a pilot lost consciousness and his plane drifted into restricted airspace over the US capital. Fighter jets were launched and followed that aircraft until it ran out of fuel and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean.

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