Florida plane crash: US authorities probe mid-air collision which killed Indian trainee pilot, three others

Police and aviation authorities in Florida's Miami-Dade are scouring a swampy grassland for clues to help explain what caused the midair collision between two small aircraft in which an Indian woman trainee pilot and three others were killed.

Press Trust of India July 19, 2018 20:01:20 IST
Florida plane crash: US authorities probe mid-air collision which killed Indian trainee pilot, three others

Washington: Police and aviation authorities in Florida's Miami-Dade are scouring a swampy grassland for clues to help explain what caused the midair collision between two small aircraft in which an Indian woman trainee pilot and three others were killed. The body of the fourth victim of the midair collision between the two small aircraft of a Miami flight school over a swampy grassland was retrieved yesterday, ending the mission to look for survivors, the Miami Herald reported.

Florida plane crash US authorities probe midair collision which killed Indian trainee pilot three others

Representational image. AFP

But searchers continued to scour the razor-like sawgrass in hopes of finding clues to help explain what caused the accident, the daily said. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will take over the investigation about the causes of the crash and how it happened, said Miami-Dade detective and spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta.

On Tuesday, two aircraft, Piper PA-34 and Cessna 172, belonging to Dean International Flight School based at Miami Executive Airport, smashed into each other in the sky and plummeted to the ground, 14 kilometres west from where they took off.  After a frantic search, police and fire rescue staff recovered the bodies of 19-year-old Indian woman Nisha Sejwal, Jorge Sanchez, 22, and Ralph Knight, 72. Police later pulled the body of another 22-year-old trainee pilot Carlos Alfredo Zanetti Scarpati from the swampy grassland, according to Zabaleta.

Police believe that Scarpati was flying with Sanchez and that Knight and Sejwal were in the other plane together. Zabaleta said Sejwal, who hailed from New Delhi, was on a routine flight check to maintain her certification. According to her social media profile, she was an alumnus of DAV Model School, Yusuf Sarai, and Amity International School, Saket. Sejwal had enrolled in Dean International Flight School in September 2017. The flight school has a history of more than two dozen incidents and accidents in the decade between 2007 and 2017.

According to the FAA, there was no flight plan filed for either plane.  It was not clear if the pilots were conducting flying lessons or conducting some type of flight check.  According to the FAA, the planes were flying under visual flight rules, meaning the pilots are flying in clear weather and can see where they're going, rather than relying on instruments. The planes were flying over air space known as an 'alert area', a practice area where checks are done or inexperienced pilots learn to fly. The Miami-Dade police spokesman said the swampy grassland tract where the planes crashed made it particularly difficult for rescuers to search for the victims.  He said one of the planes broke into several pieces.

“So, we're going to have to search for (airplane) parts to be able to piece the puzzle together,” he said. Family members of the victims had flown into the town, the report said.

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