Two people have been killed after a small private jet crashed on approach to a Florida airport in the early evening hours on February 9. The aircraft, with five passengers onboard, was scheduled to land just minutes before the crash was reported.
The aircraft involved in the crash was a Bombardier Challenger (CL) 600 jet with registration N823KD. During the CL-600's descent and approach into the airport, the pilots contacted Naples Air Traffic Control. According to a statement from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), "The preliminary information we have is that the pilot radioed that the airplane had a dual engine failure on approach into the Naples airport." The Bombardier CL-600 only has two engines at the aircraft's rear.
Shortly after, Naples ATC lost contact with the jet as it plummeted from the sky. The CL-600 aircraft crashed on Interstate 75 (I-75), with the plane coming to rest in the southbound lanes of the busy highway. The crash site is just 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers) from Naples Municipal Airport.
Brianna Walker, 26, witnessed the crash and told local media:
"It looked like it was trying to hit the median...It [the plane] starts sliding across the highway, takes a car with it, the wing comes down, crushes another car, and throws it into the median and then it hits the concrete [wall on the side of the highway] and immediately burst into flames."
According to local authorities and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), three of the five passengers onboard made it out of the plane wreck before its jet fuel exploded and engulfed the damaged plane in fire. The other two passengers onboard have been confirmed as dead.
The aircraft was operating a flight between Ohio State University Airport (OSU) and Naples Municipal Airport (APF). The plane belonged to Hop-A-Jet Worldwide, a business and private jet chartering company, and was built in 2004. According to Hop-A-Jet, the aircraft had a maximum capacity of 12 passengers. The plane was scheduled to fly to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) after arriving in Tampa.
According to the charter company, "Our immediate concern is for the well-being of our passengers, crew members and their families." It is unclear if anyone was killed or injured on the ground. However, eyewitness statements to the media have suggested that there may have been ground casualties and injuries. Currently, the official death toll from the crash remains two.
According to the Collier County Sheriff's Office, a six-mile stretch of I-75 around the crash site will be closed for at least 24 hours following the incident due to the investigation efforts of the NTSB, local law enforcement and the FAA. In the hours following the crash, gridlock was on the north and southbound sections of I-75 around the crash site.
The FAA will release a preliminary accident report early next week.
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