NTSB: Investigation into Denali crash moving forward despite lack of wreckage exam

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — Among all of the questions still swirling about the deadly plane crashed in Denali National Park that claimed the lives of five on Saturday, there remains the big one of how the investigation into the crash is going to proceed without access to the wreckage.

One might think that without the plane or passengers or pilot inside, the investigation would be halted or at least severely hindered.

That, according to the National Transportation Safety Board, is not necessarily the case here.

New photos from the National Park Service provide some insight into the final results of the tragic crash, but a library of pictures is what the NTSB — which conducts independent investigations of all civil aviation crashes in the United States — says will be imperative to figuring out how it happened.

"What we're going to be able to use are a number — I mean, hundreds of photographs that the Park Service took at the scene in lieu of a wreckage exam or actually hands-on," said NTSB Alaska Region Chief Clint Johnson.

The NPS photographs, meteorology reports and statements from rescue crew members are part of the cache of evidence that will help investigators work out the exact timeline of the crash.

However, while the investigation has already begun, experts have a long way to go before a final report is released.

"We are very much in the preliminary stages," Johnson said. "We are not drawing any conclusions; we're definitely not going to speculate. What I would ask is just give us time to do our investigation."

Johnson noted that work on the preliminary report is underway, but likely will not be published for another week or so.