FBI Takes Lead in Probe of Deadly East Hartford Plane Crash

  • One person killed after Piper plane crashed on city street
  • Pilot and student were reported to be arguing in flight

Firefighters extinguish the fire of an aircraft after the plane crashed on Main Street in East Hartford, Connecticut, on Oct. 11, 2016.

Photographer: Jim Michaud/Journal Inquirer via AP Photo

The FBI has taken over the probe into a deadly plane crash near the Hartford-Brainard Airport in Connecticut after investigators determined it appeared to be deliberate, rather than the result of an accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement Wednesday that its “initial investigation of Tuesday’s aircraft crash in East Hartford, Connecticut, indicates the crash is the result of an intentional act.” The NTSB hands oversight of crash investigations over to the FBI when there is a possible criminal or terrorist act involved.

One person aboard the Piper PA-34 Seneca was killed in the Tuesday crash on a main thoroughfare in East Hartford. Authorities have interviewed a survivor, police Lieutenant Joshua Litwin told reporters Wednesday. Photos published by the Hartford Courant and local television stations showed the plane’s wreckage burning in the street.

A student pilot and a flight instructor were arguing on the plane shortly before it crashed, the Hartford Courant reported, citing an unnamed law enforcement official. The student told the instructor he didn’t want to fly the plane any longer, according to the newspaper. The instructor survived the crash, according to the report.

Planes the size of the Piper typically don’t have crash-proof black box recorders, but investigators can often retrieve data after an accident from other electronic components.

Litwin said the FBI was initially contacted to join the investigation “by virtue of the infrastructure surrounding the area," without giving more details.

Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies Corp., has its headquarters in East Hartford and is one of the world’s largest jet-engine manufacturers for civilian and military aircraft.

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