Four dead after private jet crashes into cars and explodes just short of the runway
Published 01/08/2015 | 02:30
Four people have died after a private jet crash-landed in a car auction site and burst into flames as it approached the runway, police said.
The Phenom 300 jet crashed shortly after 3pm at Blackbushe Airport in Hampshire.
Acting Chief Inspector, Olga Venner, of Hampshire Police, speaking from the scene, said: "We can confirm that there were four people on board, including the pilot.
"Sadly, there were no survivors. No one on the ground has been injured and we would urge anyone with any information, including pictures or videos, to contact 101." She said police have launched a joint investigation with the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).
The airfield has been closed, police confirmed.
In a statement, an airport spokesman said: "Blackbushe Airport confirmed that a Phenom 300 jet with four persons on board crashed near the end of the runway around 3.09pm while attempting to make a landing.
"The scene was attended by Blackbushe Fire and Rescue within minutes, followed by Hampshire fire, police and ambulance units. Emergency services are currently controlling the scene."
Sources confirmed the jet had flown from Milan in Italy and was attempting to land. Footage from above the crash site, broadcast on Sky News, showed the immediate aftermath of the incident.
A dark plume of black smoke could be seen twisting into the sky, while an orange-red ball of fire raged below.
The fire appeared to be in the middle of a car park, with vehicles lined up for inspection at the auction site based at the airport.
Debris from the jet could be seen strewn among the dozens of severely damaged cars.
Robert Belcher, a local aviation enthusiast, said he was driving home when he saw a plume of black smoke coming from the site.
He said: "I was passing the airport on my way home and there was a big column of smoke in the air.
"The fire service had closed the road behind me.
"I could see the plume of smoke waving from about five miles away and was hoping it was just a car fire rather than an aircraft accident."
Mr Belcher said he was "shocked" when he discovered that a jet had crashed.
He added: "Apparently the aircraft was landing and just didn't stop.
"At the end of the runway there is a car park because the airport is used for car auctions and it's gone into there.
"I assumed it was cars on fire in the auction yard.
"Local people have said that it was this aircraft which is registered in Saudi Arabia.
"It's been a regular visitor to the airport for a few months.
"The aircraft would hold six people, it's a small jet."
Andrew Thomas, who was paying for a car at the time of impact, said the plane "exploded".
"I saw it when it had just happened, and could see the plane and cars in flames," he told BBC Surrey.
"The plane nosedived into the cars and exploded on impact.
"I have heard from staff here that four people were on the plane."
Local resident Daphne Knowles (70) said: "I was in a field with the cattle and I heard an aircraft coming very, very fast from behind me. The engines were screaming far too much and the aircraft was trying to land - I'm a glider pilot and I thought it's far too low to the ground.
"Two people said they thought it had to swerve to miss another aircraft as it went in, but I didn't see that myself and can't confirm, then there was a huge black cloud of smoke which went up."
A spokeswoman for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service said: "We can confirm we are in attendance.
"We were called at 3.10pm today. We have got four pumps and three other vehicles. At this stage, we do not know anything other than that."
Hampshire Police have asked motorists to avoid the area. The crash site backs on to the A30 and is a short distance from the M3.
In a message to motorists, they said: "We're dealing with an air emergency incident at Blackbushe Airport.
"Please avoid the area if you can. We'll update you when we can."
Jenny Cole posted on Facebook: "This is just behind our house - sky is black with smoke. I really hope everyone involved is ok."
Arran Bushnell posted on Twitter: "This looks bad. Praying for anyone involved."