More Questions Emerge in Aaliyah Crash

ByABC News

Aug. 29, 2001 -- More questions are being raised regarding the pilot involved in the fatal crash that killed R&B singer Aaliyah as Mariah Carey and Beyoncé Knowles join the growing list of stars commenting on their friend.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Kathleen Bergen told ABCNEWS the company that owned the Cessna 402, Blackhawk International Airways, was cited four times in the last four years, including once for a safety violation, she said.

But more questions are emerging. The Miami Herald also reported that the pilot, Luis Morales, III, was not the person authorized to fly the plane. Morales was killed along with Aaliyah and the other seven people on board.

Reuters reported that Morales, 30, had pleaded no contest to cocaine possession and three other felonies only 12 days before the accident. Under FAA guidelines, Morales had 60 days to inform aviation officials, and the plea could have resulted in his license being revoked.

Singer Mourned at Soul Train Awards

The singer will be remembered in a private funeral Friday in Manhattan. A public memorial for fans is also expected to be planned, according to Reuters.

Friends of the star are using public appearances to mourn her sudden death.

At Tuesday night's taping of Soul Train's Lady of Soul Awards in Los Angeles, Destiny's Child singer Beyoncé Knowles spoke with reporters backstage about her friend.

"She was the very first person to embrace Destiny's Child. She was so sweet always," said Knowles. "This is, it's just tragic. It's very sad."

Aaliyah's hit "Try Again" had been nominated for R&B or Rap Song of the Year. Her acting career was also taking off.

"What brings peace to my heart is that she was able to do whatshe loved to do," said singer/actor Tyrese.

Mariah Carey posted an audio message on her Web site offering sympathy to Aaliyah's family. Aaliyah's own Web page is receiving so much traffic the audio and video links were temporarily taken down.

Following a candlelight vigil in Aaliyah's hometown of Detroit, other memorials were held. In New York a grafitti artist painted an image of the singer on a downtown wall. In Los Angeles, a billboard for Aaliyah's new, self-titled album is being covered with hundreds of messages from fans.

Investigators Consider Weight of Plane

The 22-year-old singer's body was flown to New York today. The bodies of the other victims are expected to be returned to the United States today.

U.S. and Bahamian investigators are continuing to look for clues as to what caused the crash.

Police Superintendent Basil Rahming told The Associated Press that one of the Cessna's engines "apparently failed." Investigators are also considering the possibility that the weight of baggage on board contributed to the disaster, which occurred shortly after takeoff. Aaliyah and her crew were leaving the Bahamas after shooting a music video and were traveling with their equipment.

As the investigation began, the New York Post reported that the pilot of the charter plane and the singer's video crew got into a heated argument before takeoff over the weight of the equipment and passengers.

The pilot argued the Miami-bound plane was dangerously overloaded, but eventually gave in and took off, fellow pilot Lewis Key told the tabloid. But Key added that the pilot also had trouble getting one of his engines started — another suggestion that engine failure may have led to the tragedy.

The Cessna 402 is designed to handle a single-engine takeoff, according to ABCNEWS aviation expert John Nance. He said the situation requires the pilot to make an "instantaneous" response, with few options.

Nance says wealthy, high-profile passengers might sometimes bully pilots, yet that "rarely" results in an accident.

"So many musicians have died in small aircraft," said Nance. "You would think that anybody in show business would be three times more sensitive."

ABCNEWS Radio and ABCNEWS' Andrew Colton in Miami contributed to this report.

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