TETERBORO, N.J. (AP) — A Learjet approaching New Jersey's Teterboro Airport made a later-than-usual turn toward the runway before it banked hard and crashed into an industrial area, killing the two crewmen aboard, federal investigators said Thursday.
The National Transportation Safety Board issued a preliminary report into the May 15 crash of the twin-engine Learjet 35, which was headed to Teterboro from Philadelphia International Airport.
Radar data indicated the aircraft did not start its right circling turn until it was less than a mile (1.6 kilometers) from the approach end of the runway, the NTSB said. Controllers said aircraft typically start that turn about four miles (6 kilometers) away, investigators said.
A "controller reported that he observed the airplane bank hard to the right and he could see the belly of the airplane with the wings almost perpendicular to the ground," the NTSB said. "The airplane then appeared to level out for just a second or two before the left wing dropped, showing the entire top of the airplane."
Other ground witnesses also reported that they observed the airplane in a right turn with the wings in a high angle of bank.
The jet crashed among small warehouses and industrial buildings in Carlstadt, a quarter-mile (400 meters) from the runway. There were no passengers aboard and no one on the ground was injured.
Surveillance video from a nearby business showed the moment of impact and then a huge fireball.
The NTSB said at the time of the crash, the wind speed was 23 mph with gusts to nearly 35 mph.
The crash and fire consumed much of the airplane, but all components of the airplane were located amid the wreckage at the accident site, investigators said.
The cockpit voice recorder is being examined. The plane did not have, and was not required to have, a flight recorder.