EL CAJON, Calif. — The National Transportation Safety Board is in San Diego investigating the jet crash in East County and released their initial findings in a written report Tuesday.
According to the NTSB, the pilot of the Learjet 35A, a business aircraft, changed their plans as they approached for landing at Gillespie Field. After initially getting approval to land on the small airport’s Runway 17, the pilot requested a change to Runway 27R.
They also changed from what’s called an “instrument approach” to a “visual approach” for the second runway, according to NTSB, meaning they were relying more on what they saw outside of the aircraft to make their landing than a pre-determined path set by their navigation tools.
But shortly after the plane was cleared to land on Runway 27R, it tragically crashed in a residential neighborhood, scattering piles of fiery wreckage in the area of Pepper Drive and North 2nd Street. The crash site is located approximately 1.4 miles from the approach end of the runway, the report shows.
Investigators say they weren’t able to find any survivors from the plane that took off Monday evening from John Wayne Airport in Orange County with Gillespie Field being its intended destination.
According to NTSB, local authorities will provide additional information about the victims.
Three NTSB investigators were dispatched to the scene with one arriving Tuesday morning and the other two expected later in the day. They plan to be in the El Cajon area for three days to document the site and other perishable evidence.
One area of focus for investigators is identifying and recovering a cockpit voice recorder from the aircraft. Once it’s found, it will be taken to NTSB headquarters in Washington D.C., “where investigators will attempt to read it out,” NTSB said Tuesday.
“If investigators are able to recover usable audio, a transcript of the recording will be created,” the agency said.
The San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office cleared the crash site Tuesday afternoon with all road closures expected to be lifted by Wednesday night, the county Sheriff’s Department said. Department officials thanked the community for its patience Tuesday as Pepper Drive was closed from Topper Lane to North 2nd Street.
“It will take @NTSB some time to process the plane crash site,” officials said in a tweet. “We send our heartfelt sympathies to those affected by this incident.”
A preliminary report from investigators is expected to be released in “several weeks” with the final report usually completed in 12 to 24 months, the NTSB said. Anyone who witnessed the crash or has relevant video of any aspect of it is being asked to contact investigators by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.