09/01/1998 AT 12:00 AM EDT
The National Transportation Safety Board is soon expected to release its findings into last year's July 16 air fatality that took the lives of John Kennedy Jr., his wife Carolyn and her sister, Lauren Bessette. According to NBC News, pilot error was to blame. The board, however, intends to use the less-critical term of "spatially disoriented" to describe Kennedy, 38, who was at the helm of the single-engine Piper Saratoga when it plunged into the waters off Martha's Vineyard. Spatial disorientation refers to a pilot's losing track of a plane's position in the air. NBC also said that the board will cite several factors that contributed to the accident, including fog and the darkness of the plane's surroundings. In addition, Kennedy reportedly failed to rely on the plane's instruments. A spokesman for the Kennedy family, contacted by the Associated Press, declined comment on the NBC report.