FBI investigates 'intentional' plane crash in heart of US town

Investigators at the scene of the incident in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut, Oct 12, 2016.
Investigators at the scene of the incident in downtown East Hartford, Connecticut, Oct 12, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK (AFP) - The FBI is investigating the "intentional" crash of a small plane in Connecticut that killed a Jordanian student and injured an American flight instructor, officials and US media said on Wednesday (Oct 12).

The plane exploded in a fire ball on Tuesday in East Hartford, about 192km north-east of New York.

The flight instructor, who survived the crash, told investigators it was not an accident, The New York Times reported.

The dead person was identified as trainee pilot, Feras Freitekh, 28, who the Times said was Jordanian. He was issued a private pilot certificate last year and certified to fly a single-engine plane, the newspaper said.

The doomed Piper PA-34 was on its final approach to East Hartford airport when it crashed, knocking out power lines, US media reported.

"The crash is the result of an intentional act," the National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday.

"The NTSB is in the process of transferring the lead for the investigation from NTSB to the FBI," it added.

Local police said the plane crashed near Pratt and Whitney, an aerospace company that manufactures engines for military and commercial aircraft.

The company has 33,500 employees worldwide and generated revenues of US$14 billion (S$19.4 billion) last year, according to its website.

Lieutenant Josh Litwin of East Hartford police told reporters that FBI investigators were combing the crash site.

"Now that they have arrived on scene, they are investigating. No situation is being ruled out, no circumstances are being ruled out," Litwin said.

Television footage showed the plane's wreckage in flames on the street.

"It was like a movie scene," one witness told NBC television.

"It was like, who would have thought that would have happened?"