Local authorities and witnesses said all 10 people on board a small plane were killed in a fiery crash when the plane struggled to rise after taking off from an airport in a suburb of Dallas, swerving to the side and crashing into a hangar.
Federal officials said two crew members and eight passengers were killed when the twin-engine plane, which was scheduled to fly to St. Petersburg, Florida, crashed at Addison Municipal Airport at 9:11 a.m. The identities of the dead were not immediately revealed.
“We don’t know a lot about the people on board at this point,” said Bruce Landsberg, vice chair of the National Transportation Safety Board.
Officials say the Beechcraft BE-350 King Air struck a hangar that caught fire as black smoke rose from the building as firefighters sprayed it with water. A plane and helicopter were damaged in the hangar, but there were no people in the building.
The accident left a large hole in the barn, which is not far from a crowded commercial strip and densely populated residential neighborhoods in the northern suburb of Dallas.
Landsberg said the plane had been changed recently so its tail number was not yet confirmed, and NTSB lead investigator Jennifer Ruddy said it was previously owned by a private rental company in Chicago.
Addison town spokesman Edward Martell said the plane was taking off from the south end of the airport and had just taken off the runway when it veered left and dropped its left wing and went to the hangar.
Asked if the plane’s behavior indicated an engine failure, Landsberg said: “We cannot confirm that an engine failure has occurred at this stage.”
“There are any number of possibilities that can occur,” he said.
David Snell, who was preparing to fly from Addison with a friend, said the plane did not look correct at takeoff.
“It looked like the power was clearly reduced. I didn’t know if it was on purpose or not, but then, when the plane started to swerve to the left, you could tell it couldn’t go up. My friend and I looked at each other and said , “Gosh. Snell said.
Peter Drake says he saw the plane crash into a hangar.
“He got off the runway, he got down the runway, he started taking off. He reached 200 feet, and I saw him start to lose his strength and height, then I saw him roll and went straight down to the building.”
The sound of the air traffic control tower from the time of the accident does not capture any pilot indicating an emergency or problem with the aircraft. But pilots waiting to take off can be heard shortly thereafter looking for updates and repeatedly asked to wait.
“Everyone just stands,” one observer said. “We had an accident on the field, so expect not to go out anytime soon.”
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said Dallas County was helping Addison set up a family assistance center for people affected by the accident. He said the center is staffed by pastors, counselors, and other mental health and support workers.
“It’s terrible, sad, shocking to lose a family member like this,” Jenkins told The Associated Press. “So we’re doing everything we can to calm them down.”