At least six people have been pronounced dead at the scene when a privately-owned business jet crashed and burned Saturday in Riverside County near French Valley Airport northeast of Murrieta, the US media reported Sunday.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said that a Cessna C550 jet crashed around 4am.
According to National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator Eliott Simpson, all six victims of the Cessna C550 were adults.
“The plane departed from Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas around 3:15am, with the flight lasting around 45 minutes,” he said.
In a statement released on Twitter, the fire department said that the blaze burned an acre of vegetation to ashes before being doused around 5:35am.
Meanwhile, Simpson said that the jet was faced with low visibility before landing, owing to a marine layer.
“Shortly before landing, a marine layer began enveloping the area with low visibility. The pilot reported to air traffic control shortly before landing that he was going to perform a missed approach, which generally happens when a pilot can’t see the runway environment and is instead referencing the instruments aboard the aircraft to land.”
“Air traffic control provided the pilot with a clearance to perform the missed approach, and cleared the airplane to return to landing, but the aircraft instead crashed about 500 feet short of the runway, leaving a debris field some 200 feet long,” he added.
The plane was engulfed by the fire except for the tail. Firefighters put out a small brush fire that spread from the plane’s wreckage.
Authorities did not release the identities of the deceased victims.
Simpson noted that it appeared the weather allowed for landing at the airport, “but it was right at the minimum.”
The NTSB statement said five investigators were heading to the scene, adding that it was too early to determine potential causes. The Federal Aviation Administration has also launched an investigation into the plane crash.