By Independent / Wire staff
SANTA MONICA — Authorities hope to gain access Monday to the fuselage of a private jet that crashed and burned at Santa Monica Airport, killing all aboard.
At a news conference Monday at the airfield, Van McKenny of the National Transportation Safety Board said two cranes would be needed to lift wreckage of a hangar that collapsed onto the airplane after it crashed into the structure and burst into flames.
“We absolutely plan on being able to access the fuselage today,” McKenny said.
He also said “there was no communication [from] the pilot indicating there was a problem with the aircraft at any time during the flight.”
The twin-engine Cessna Citation jet, which had taken off in Hailey, Idaho, slammed into a hangar after veering off the runway around 6:20 p.m. Sunday, causing the structure to collapse and sparking an explosive fire that spread to two other hangars.
Capt. John Nevandro of the Santa Monica Fire Department said “it was an unsurvivable crash.”
How many people were aboard the eight-seat aircraft won’t be determined until the rubble on the aircraft is removed, authorities said.
It was reported Monday that the president of a Santa Monica-based construction company and his son apparently were aboard the private jet.
According to a statement on the website of Santa Monica-based Morley Builders, company vice president Charles Muttillo said: “We are aware of a plane crash at Santa Monica Airport last night. While we do not have specific facts, we believe that our president and CEO, Mark Benjamin, and his son, Luke Benjamin, a senior project engineer with us, were on board. We are unable to issue a further statement at this time.”
According to McKenny, the airplane landed on the runway, veered and hit a runway sign, and then hit the hangar.
Crews will have to shore up the roof of the hangar before workers can enter the structure and examine the fuselage of the airplane. It was unclear how long that would take, he said.
The runways at the airport remained closed Monday afternoon.
In a statement, the city of Santa Monica said the city “is in the process of evaluating potential options for the airport’s future after the expiration of the 1984 settlement agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration in mid-2015.
“The City Council has directed staff to return to Council in March of 2014. Options likely to be discussed then range from operational restrictions or reductions to partial or full closure. However, any decisions about the future of the airport will eventually be made within the context of a complex jurisdictional and legal context.”