MOONACHIE – A senior investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board says a plane preparing to land at Teterboro Airport Monday was on a routine flight from Philadelphia until the last few moments, when it inexplicably went “out of control” and crashed, killing two people.
“There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary up until then,” said Jim Silliman, an NTSB investigator. “But it would appear that the aircraft, at that last moment, was out of control. Why it got there is the subject of our investigation.”
The Learjet 35, a twin-engine jet often used for business or personal travel, glanced off a building and crashed at 3:30 p.m. into a parking lot near the Carlstadt Department of Public Works on Kero Road. The plane exploded, setting fire to three buildings and more than a dozen vehicles.
There were no injuries on the ground.
The accident scene is about one-quarter mile from the airport.
Silliman said during a press conference in Moonachie the plane was on a final approach to land on Runway 1 at Teterboro Airport and that communications between the pilot and air-traffic controllers was normal.
But security video obtained by the NTSB from businesses show the plane turning sharp right with its wing low and nose down as it explodes into the ground in a parking lot on Kero Road.
Wreckage scattered over an area 440-feet by 100-feet, Silliman said. An entire block was cordoned off to the public Tuesday.
A cockpit voice recorder was recovered from the wreckage and is being shipped to NTSB headquarters in Washington, D.C., Silliman said.
“This aircraft was not required to have a flight data recorder, so we do not have that,” Silliman said. “We are fortunate that the aircraft did have a cockpit voice recorder.”
Silliman said the remains of the aircraft and its engines will soon be moved to a “secure location for further examination.”
“We will also gather information on the pilots’ records, the aircraft maintenance records and the weather at the time of the accident,” he said.
Silliman said winds on Monday afternoon were at 16 knots with gusts of more than 30 mph.
“The air traffic controllers tried to get the aircraft into the wind as much as possible so there’s no crosswind and that the gusts would not be a problem,” Silliman said. “However, there’s only so much they can do.”
Silliman pointed out that other pilots navigated Monday’s winds without a problem.
“Pilots in the area were dealing with the same winds – not just this airport, but at all airports in this Northeast region,” he said.
The names of the pilot and co-pilot were not released because a medical examiner is attempting to confirm their identities, Silliman said.
The aircraft was built in 1981. It is registered to A&C Big Sky Aviation LLC in Billings, Montana, according to FAA records.
The aircraft was being flown by Trans-Pacific Jets, a charter aircraft company based in Honolulu, the jet’s owner said in an interview with Bloomberg. Chandra Hanson of Billings, Montana, told Bloomberg she owns the plane with her husband Brad. The Hansons fly on the aircraft, which is based in Salt Lake City, and allow it to be flown for hire when it’s not in use, according to Bloomberg.
The initial investigation is expected to last three or four days, Silliman said.
The NTSB could take 12-18 months to determine a cause for the accident.
“There are numerous things we’ll be looking at and that’s why we have to take a very step-by-step approach,” Silliman said. “We can’t overlook anything because there are a lot of possibilities.”
CARLSTADT, NJ — Two died in a Monday afternoon plane crash in Carlstadt, not far from Teterboro Airport, officials with the town police department said.
The pilot and co-pilot were deemed fatalities on scene, police said.
It was not immediately clear what caused the plane to crash around 3:30 p.m.
The plane was a Learjet 35 that crashed on approach to Runway 1 at Teterboro, an FAA spokesperson said.
It crashed in a residential area about 1/4 mile from the airport. The plane was en route to the airport from Philadelphia International Airport.
Video from the scene showed plumes of dark, thick smoke billowing from the site of the crash.
The FAA is currently on its way to the scene of the crash.
A Learjet 35 can hold up to eight passengers, but it is not yet clear how many people were on the plane.
Video: Moment of impact:
— Marcus Lemonis (@marcuslemonis) May 15, 2017
The crash took place during a period of high wind gusts, although federal authorities did not provide information about what might have caused the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board was expected to arrive on the scene Tuesday to begin its investigation, a process that can take more than a year to complete. The NTSB typically releases preliminary reports weeks after a crash.
Local authorities did not release information about the two people who were killed on the plane, saying at a 9 p.m. Monday press conference that the Bergen County medical examiner was working to identify them. They said that any further information about the crash would come from the Federal Aviation Administration or the NTSB.
Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco said it was “somewhat a miracle” that no one on the ground was injured. Carlstadt Deputy Police Chief Thomas Berta said the tragedy could have been compounded, given the location.
“Our industrial area is congested heavily during the day,” Berta said at a press conference at the Teterboro Airport Administration Building. “Thank God nobody [on the ground] was injured.”
Craig Lahullier, the Carlstadt mayor, said he initially feared that borough workers at the DPW building might have been hurt. But when he got to the scene, the building was empty, he said. The last employee had left the building just 15 minutes before the crash occurred at about 3:30 p.m.
“I tell you, it’s a miracle that [the DPW workers] were all out of there at that time,” Lahullier said. He added that the plane, which came to rest in the DPW parking lot, “was “pretty much disintegrated.”
Firefighters battled multiple blazes and had put them out in about 40 minutes, said a borough spokesman, Joe Orlando. Berta said workers evacuated from buildings “involved in the fire” and that authorities had accounted for all of the occupants, “so it appears we have no one on the ground that was injured in any way.”
The FAA said the plane — a Learjet 35 that can hold up to seven people — was making its approach to Runway 1 at Teterboro at about 3:30 p.m. when it went down about one-quarter of a mile south of the airport.
The twin-engine plane was registered to a company called A&C Big Sky Aviation, of Billings, Montana, according to an FAA database. The company could not be reached for comment Monday.
The plane had taken off from Philadelphia International Airport, where it was being serviced by a company called Atlantic Aviation, a spokeswoman for the Philadelphia airport said. Officials from the company, which also operates at Teterboro, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Alexander Lawrence, who works at Pioneer Industries, near the crash site, said he hears planes headed to Teterboro all day long but that this one “was too close.” He said it hit the corner of a building and bounced off, crashing in a “ball of fire.”
Johanna Pulido, who works at United Paper in the 99 Kero Road building, said the plane hit power lines as it came down, and that she and other workers evacuated in the immediate aftermath of the crash.
“It was between our building and the DPW,” she said.
The accident occurred amid wind advisories and gusts of up to 37 miles per hour between 3 and 4 p.m. at Teterboro, according to the National Weather Service.
At about 3:20 p.m., according to a recording of the air traffic control communications, a pilot taking off from Teterboro on Runway 24 radioed the control tower to report wind shear, a change in wind velocity that can affect a plane’s direction.
Andrew Barcia said he saw the plane “on its side” as it flew overhead.
“It looked like it was heading toward the airport,” he said. “I feel sorry for those people inside.”
Naeem Majors, of Brooklyn, was working at Manhattan Door when the plane hit the building.
“We first heard the explosion, and afterwards we saw that a plane had just hit the building, and we got out of there,” he said. “I left my phone, I left my glasses. We left out of the other side of the building, and our cars are totaled. It’s pretty bad.”
Majors added that it could have been much worse had people been leaving at the time of the crash, with much of the damage occurring outside the building. “People usually leave around the time that it happened,” he said. “Luckily no one was in their cars or walking towards their cars.”
Gustavo Yepez of Westwood, who also works at Manhattan Door, said he heard a “loud boom” and that he felt the floor shaking beneath him.
“The owner came inside and said, ‘Get out.’ We looked at each other and got out. All we saw was flames. For a second, we thought it was like being in a movie. It still feels surreal. I feel shook still.”
AOL co-founder Steve Case was on a plane at the airport when the crash occurred. He took a photo of billowing smoke in the distance and shared it on social media.
“Plane just crashed trying to land at Teterboro Airport in NJ. Missed runway and landed in adjacent industrial area. Airport closed,” he wrote.
Tedesco said the crash did not lead him to question safety at the airport. He said he is “very confident in the operations here at Teterboro,” and added that it is “one of the safest airports in the country.”
He said the FBI and the Sheriff’s Office were at the scene collecting evidence to assist the FAA, and that the Bergen County Technical High School Teterboro campus on Route 46 would be open with “support counseling for those that might need it.”
Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal said his office also was assisting in the investigation.
Connie Bovino, chairwoman of Hackensack’s condo and co-op advisory board, said she has been concerned about low-flying planes for some time. She favors a flight path that takes planes south along the Route 17 corridor, which she said would be less hazardous.
“We’re concerned with the high-rises; we’re concerned with the hospital and the schools … they’re going over lower and lower,” Bovino said. “It’s a shame that something like this has to happen before they realize we’ve got to make changes. It’s crazy.”
In 2005, a corporate jet taking off from Teterboro skidded across a runway, crashed through a fence, veered across the six lanes of Route 46, struck a car and slammed into a clothing warehouse. The two pilots were seriously injured, as were two occupants in the car. A cabin aide, eight passengers and one person in the building suffered minor injuries.
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This is happening more frequently and there should be an investigation
I now of the problems and figuring out what the problem is, the hostin
I don't know if it's just me or if perhaps everybody else encountering
Paul Blankenship · Top Commenter · School of Hard Knocks Mr. Shelton