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Pilot of Aaliyah plane had cocaine arrest



MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- As aviation officials continue to study the scattered remains of the Cessna 402 aircraft that crashed, killing singer Aaliyah and eight others, Florida authorities said Wednesday that the pilot of the plane was recently arrested on charges of cocaine possession.

There was no immediate indication that drugs might have played any role in the crash. Bahamian officials said they are awaiting the results of toxicology tests on the plane's occupants, all of whom died.

The Broward County, Florida, sheriff's office told CNN that the pilot, Luis Morales, was arrested on a charge of cocaine possession after a traffic stop on July 7. After running a stop sign, he gave sheriff's deputies permission to search his car and the crack cocaine was found. He posted bail, and his case was later adjudicated.

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Morales had 60 days to voluntarily report this incident to the FAA, which could have suspended or revoked his flight certificate. He was still within that period when he was killed.

FAA spokesman Kathleen Bergen told CNN that Morales, had no rules violations against him, but confirmed he had a criminal record that might have affected his flying record.

Meanwhile, Bahamian lead investigator Randy Butler told CNN that investigators are in the middle of weighing all of the plane's luggage to determine whether the craft was overloaded.

Witnesses at the scene before the plane departed have told CNN that there was an argument between the pilot and passengers about the amount of luggage the plane could carry. That has led to speculation that the plane was overweight, which may have caused it to plunge to the ground after takeoff.

Most of the luggage remained intact after the crash, Butler said, but officials are still gathering pieces scattered about the crash scene.

At the office of the medical examiner in Nassau, officials also are weighing the remains of the passengers as part of the effort to determine how much weight the plane was carrying.

"The investigation is continuing," Butler said. "We haven't ruled out anything. We hope to be on the ground for about three more days."

He said investigators have examined the plane's right engine, and hope to begin inspecting the left engine Wednesday. They will send some parts of the plane to labs for further inspection.

In the United States, the FAA is still attempting to pinpoint the flight's charter company of record. The FAA's records indicate the flight's operator, Blackhawk International Airways, is cleared to fly only as a "single pilot certificate." That is, only one pilot is licensed to fly for Blackhawk, and it was not Morales.

The registered owner of the plane is SkyStream of Pembroke Pines, Florida. FAA officials said they are trying to determine the link between the two companies.

"We're still looking into which company was the charter company of record," said FAA spokesman Bergen. "It has not been established that Blackhawk was the operator."







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