The plane carrying the owner and president of a construction company was flying low, and its engine didn't sound healthy moments before it crashed in Arundel, Maine, on October 5, according to a preliminary report by the NTSB.

The pilot, Eldon Morrison, 81, of Yarmouth, and passenger Paul Koziell, 55, from Scarborough, were killed upon impact, according to York County Sheriff William King. Morrison is the founder and CEO of CPM Constructors, and Koziell was its president.

They were returning from a morning business trip to Presque Island.

Several witnesses told the NTSB that they could not see the Beech A36 as it made its approach to Biddeford Airport. According to the report, it was flying at 550 feet, which was 750 feet below the minimum descent altitude for that segment of the approach. It had also slowed to 58 knots ground speed.

The report said the plane's initial impact point was a tree about 40 feet above the ground.

Scene of a plane crash in Arundel 10/5/22
Scene of a plane crash in Arundel 10/5/22 (WGME TV via Facebook)

One witness told the NTSB they felt the ground shake when the plane crashed, and that the sound of the engine was “not the normal rhythm of a piston engine… it would sputter and die out.”

Another witness said that he was inside his shop when he heard it coming very low.

"It didn’t sound good. It wasn’t sputtering, but it didn’t sound good. It was steady, but it didn’t sound healthy to me," the witness said.

At the crash scene, the cockpit, cabin area, and nearly all the empennage were consumed by a post-crash fire. The tail section remained largely intact. The wings displayed impact damage consistent with a collision with trees and terrain.

Flight control cable continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to the flight control surfaces through several breaks consistent with impact and thermal damage. The engine was separated from the airframe.

The preliminary report did not disclose the cause of the crash.

A visitation was held Thursday for both Koziell and Morrison in Portland.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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