Pilot in Santa Monica jet crash did not report problems, NTSB says

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A federal investigator working on the fiery crash of a twin-engine Cessna jet at Santa Monica Airport said the pilot did not report any problems before the plane veered off a runway Sunday and slammed into a storage hangar, bursting into flames.

Van McKenny, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, told reporters Monday that after crews secure the badly burned hangar, officials will be able to access the fuselage for the first time. There was documentation indicating that a cockpit voice recorder was on board, he said.

The Cessna Citation crashed about 6:20 p.m. after veering off the runway, McKenny said. “As he continued down, the turn got sharper and sharper,” McKenny added.


The resulting crash was not survivable, authorities said.

McKenny declined to discuss possible reasons for the jet to have veer, saying the investigation was still in its early stages and crews had yet to access the fuselage. As of Monday afternoon, the NTSB was also trying to determine who was on board the aircraft at the time of the crash.

Investigators were also trying to retrieve a flight plan from the Federal Aviation Adminstration, McKenny said.

Los Angeles County coroner officials had been unable to reach the burned plane because the crash had severely damaged the hangar, causing the roof to partially collapse onto the fuselage.

The jet — which was coming from Hailey, Idaho — could hold up to eight people, according to Cessna and registration information.

The chief executive of one of the largest construction companies in Southern California, Mark Benjamin, 63, and his son, Luke, 28, were believed to have been on board the small jet, the company said on its website Monday.

The elder Benjamin was chief executive at Morley Construction, one of the largest construction firms in Southern California, which has more than 200 employees and an annual work volume of more than $300 million, the company said.


“Hope to be well into the recovering by this evening,” McKenny said.

Santa Monica Airport, meanwhile, remained closed to aircraft, he added.


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Twitter: @josephserna