Four people died after two small general aviation aircraft collided mid-air over North Las Vegas Airport, police said. The crash happened Sunday afternoon after two single-engine aircraft, each carrying two passengers, collided over an active runway, with the North Las Vegas Fire Department confirming the deaths. Two of the dead are believed to be pilots.
The National Transportation Safety Board and FAA are both looking into what caused the collision. According to the aviation department, two runways were closed into the evening to let first responders and investigators to work the situation hours after the terrible tragedy. The airport, however, remained open for air traffic.
Videos posted on social media show the wreckage of one of the planes smoking on the sun-scorched tarmac with a heavy column of smoke rising into the sky. The incident happened exactly at 12 pm on Sunday when a Piper PA-46 collided with a Cessna 172, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
According to officials, the Piper PA-46 was getting ready to land when it was struck by the Cessna 172 at high speed, causing both to catch fire.
The accident is currently being investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board, according to police, who confirmed the fatalities on Sunday.
Although the victims of the accident have not yet been identified, at least two of them were flying single-engine Piper PA-46 and Cessna 172 tiny, personal aircraft.
"I can confirm that two planes have crashed resulting in multiple fatalities," NLVPD Public Information Officer Alexander Cuevas said of the incident. He also said that the department has handed the charge of the investigation to federal officials.
"The NTSB and the FAA have taken over control of the investigation. We are assisting where requested," the officer said.
FAA Takes Charge
In a statement released on Sunday, the FAA confirmed the airborne collision and mentioned that both the aircraft involved in the crash were carrying two people each. "Preliminary information indicates that the Piper PA-46 was preparing to land when it collided with the Cessna 172," the FAA said in the statement.
"The Piper crashed into in a field east of Runway 30-Right and the Cessna fell into a water retention pond."
According to a statement from the Clark County Department of Aviation, "there were no survivors."
The passengers on the ill-fated aircraft who were pronounced dead at the scene have not yet been identified by authorities. Photos show officials inspecting the crash sites on Sunday in an effort to identify their causes.
Firefighters were also seen rushing toward the two aircraft involved in the crash. Long into the afternoon, the south end of the airport's Carey Road remained blocked off as investigators evaluated the damage.