The pilots killed in the fiery small plane crash near Teterboro Airport in New Jersey last week took several actions that weren't typical for planes flying into the airport, the NTSB says in a preliminary report of its investigation into the crash.
The two co-pilots on the Learjet were later than expected to contact aircraft control and were later than usual to start their approach turn, the report released Thursday says. Witnesses also said the wings were nearly perpendicular to the ground.
The Learjet crashed May 15 in an industrial area near Teterboro Airport, damaging two buildings and setting a fire that burned 16 cars in a parking lot. No one on the ground was injured.
The jet had initially flown from Teterboro to Bedford, Massachusetts, early last Monday. It then flew to Philadelphia later Monday morning before leaving again for Teterboro in the afternoon.
After taking off for that flight to Teterboro, the pilots were instructed to contact air traffic control about nine miles from Teterboro Airport, but didn't check in until about four miles from the airport, the NTSB says.
Then the plane didn't start start its right turn circling until it was less than a mile from the approach end of a runway at the airport, according to NTSB. Planes typically start the right turn almost four miles from the runway.
One of the air traffic controllers at Teterboro reported seeing the plane bank hard to the right and seeing the belly of the plane with its wings almost perpendicular to the ground. The plane appeared to level out momentarily before the left wing dropped, showing the entire top of the plane, he said.
Other ground witnesses also reported seeing the plane in a right turn with the wings in a high angle of bank, and the wings "wobbling" before the left wings dropped and the plane descended, according to the NTSB.
The NTSB is continuing to investigate, and is working on transcribing the cockpit voice recorder, which was found in the wreckage. Other plane components, as well as an iPhone collected from the crash site, will be examined.
Surveillance video from a nearby business shows the moment of impact and then a huge fireball. A man can be seen running across a parking lot toward the crash site as thick, black smoke spews into the air.
One of the pilots in the crash has been identified as 33-year-old Jeffrey Alino of Union, New Jersey. The other pilot has not been identified.