SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — The National Transportation Safety Board Monday released new details about a deadly plane crash at the Santa Monica Airport.
A twin-engine Cessna Citation went off the runway, collided with a runway sign and crashed into a hangar around 6:20 p.m. Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
The hangar collapsed on the plane, which then caught on fire. Authorities said the blaze, which spread to two nearby hangars, burned at unusually high temperatures due to jet fuel. As a result, an unknown number of aircraft and vehicles were damaged.
“It looked like a fairly benign way for a plane to lose control. It wasn’t skidding down the runway and rolling over; it lost a tire and ran into a hangar,” flight instructor Charlie Thomson said.
At least two cranes will be used to remove steel trusses and sheet metal that collapsed on the plane’s fuselage, according to Van McKenny of the NTSB, who said he could not confirm whether there was an issue with the plane’s tire.
NTSB officials said the pilot never contacted authorities stating there was a problem.
Charles Muttillo, Vice President of Morley Builders, issued a statement Monday about who might have been onboard:
“We are aware of a plane crash at Santa Monica Airport last night. While we do not have specific facts, we believe that our President and CEO, Mark Benjamin, and his son, Luke Benjamin, a Senior Project Engineer with us were on board. We are unable to issue a further statement at this time. We will provide you with more updates as soon as we learn of them. Thank you.”
The aircraft was reportedly registered to Benjamin, whose family founded the construction company in 1947.
Officials have yet to release how many people were on board the eight-passenger aircraft or if anyone was inside the hangar at the time of the fire, but Muttillo said there may have been a total of four people on the plane.
“Right now, we’re still in the recovery process – recovery phase – and we have not identified the total number of people onboard or those individuals. Once that information is known, the County coroner will provide it,” McKenny said.
However, there are not believed to be any survivors.
“There’s no survivors in that hangar or on the plane,” Santa Monica Fire Department Capt. John Nevandro said. “It was impossible to get in [the hangar]. It was collapsing when we got there.”
The plane originated from Hailey, Idaho, where Muttillo said the passengers were taking a weekend vacation.
The chair of the Santa Monica Airport Commission, David Goddard, renewed his call late Sunday for city officials to reduce operations at the airfield.
Goddard said the Sunday’s crash site was 150 feet from residences and had the plane not hit the hangar, it could have gone up an embankment into homes.
“With the size of those jets and the amount of fuel they contain, they would likely destroy those residences if they struck them,” he told KNX 1070.
If the city council were to adopt an ordinance, it would reduce the number of flights from flight schools taking off or landing at Santa Monica Airport.