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Federal Investigators Swarm Deadly Plane Crash Site Near Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, Recover Voice Recorder

Members of the FAA and NTSB were en route to the scene as part of an ongoing investigation into the cause of the crash

What to Know

  • A plane crashed into an industrial neighborhood in Carlstadt Monday and on Tuesday investigators will work to determine why it went down
  • Two crew members on the plane died; there were no passengers, officials said, and no injuries or fatalities were reported on the ground
  • Officials said buildings and cars were on fire; thick, black smoke could be seen rising above the crash site

Federal investigators from multiple agencies swarmed the site of Monday's plane crash in New Jersey as they launched their probe into what caused the small private jet to crash on approach to Teterboro Airport, igniting power lines, buildings and turning a dozen cars into smoldering wreckage.

Jim Silliman with the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday afternoon that the voice recorder had been recovered and was being shipped to NTSB headquarters. He said the flight wasn't required to have a data recorder.

During a press conference, Silliman said the wind at the time of the crash "was a concern." Winds were gusting at more than 30 mph around the time of the crash, and Silliman said controllers would have tried to have the plane head into the wind to avoid crosswind.

The Learjet 35 went down around 3:30 p.m. Monday in Carlstadt, a quarter-mile from the runway. The plane, which witnesses said had been flying upside down before impact, went down among small warehouses and industrial buildings. Incredibly, no one on the ground was injured as it combusted into a gigantic fireball, spewing thick black smoke visible from New York City.

Two pilots on board died, authorities said. The medical examiner is working to confirm their identities. There were no passengers on board the Learjet 35 twin-jet, which had departed from Philadelphia International Airport.

The NTSB was inspecting the site as it continued the investigation into the crash Tuesday. The FAA has also launched a probe into the crash. 

Firefighters from multiple departments responded to building fires at United Group, Manhattan Door Company and the Carlstadt Dept. of Public Works, Carlstadt Police Chief Tom Berta said. Emergency responders worked for more than an hour to extinguish the blaze, which consumed 13 vehicles. 

The plane's tail number is N452DA. It was built in 1981 and is registered to A&C Big Sky Aviation in Billings, Montana. It wasn't immediately clear who was operating the plane at the time of the crash, and NBC 4 New York wasn't immediately able to reach the company.  

Among the many factors investigators from the FAA and NTSB will probe Tuesday is the plane's maintenance records, which is routine in all crashes. 

Surveillance video shows the red plane right before impact. It appears to be nose-down and on its side as it hits. 

"Tower, that Learjet just crashed," the pilot of another plane told air traffic controllers moments later. 

"Airport's closed! Airport's closed!" an air traffic controller said moments later. 

Meteorologists forecasted strong winds, including gusts up to 45 mph, for northern New Jersey at the time of the crash.

Carlstadt Mayor Craig Lahullier said all town employees already had left for the day before the plane crashed next to the town's public works building.

"I tell ya, it's a miracle," he said. "Thank God the guys were out of there, that's all I can say."

The last crash at or near Teterboro Airport was in 2005, and the last deadly crash was in Nov. 1985, according to the Aviation Safety Network, a well regarded database of international flight incidents. Multiple people died in the 1985 crash. 

Teterboro, which is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the oldest operating airport in the New York City area. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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