CARLSTADT, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Federal investigators announced Tuesday they’ve recovered a cockpit voice recorder at the site of a deadly jet crash near Teterboro Airport.
National Transportation Safety Board lead investigator Jim Sillman says the CVR will be shipped to the agency’s headquarters as authorities work to determine what caused the aircraft to go down before bursting into flames Monday afternoon. The aircraft was not required to have a flight data recorder.
He says the wind at the time of the crash “was a concern.” Winds were gusting at more than 30 mph around the time of the crash.
“Our mission is to not just understand what happened, but why it happened and make recommendations to prevent it from happening again,” Sillman said in a press briefing Tuesday.
Police said two crew members were killed when the Learjet 35 crashed among small warehouses and industrial buildings around 3:30 p.m. in Carlstadt, three-quarters of a mile from the runway.
PHOTOS: Carlstadt Jet Crash
Seconds before, one of the two crew members on board communicated with air traffic control about turning the aircraft.
“Are you going to start that turn?” an air traffic controller says, according to a recording of the audio on Broadcastify.com.
“Yes sir, we’re doing that right now, 452 delta alpha,” the crew member responds.
“Tower, uh — appears a jet just crashed.”
“The pilots did not express any sense of an extreme situation nor did they identify any problem with the aircraft at the time,” Sillman said, adding that it appeared the aircraft lost control in the moments before impact.
There were no passengers aboard and no one on the ground was reported injured.
Surveillance video from a nearby business shows the moment of impact and then a huge fireball. A man can be seen running across a parking lot toward the crash site as thick, black smoke spews into the air.
“It sounded just like a firework,” said witness Marquel McCray. “And then next thing you know, boom!”
“It was completely on its side and my girlfriend said it flipped over completely and then we saw all the smoke,” said witness Andrew Barcia.
Two of the three buildings involved in the crash sustained fire damage.
Emergency responders worked for more than an hour to extinguish the blaze, which left a smoldering wreckage of cars in a parking lot. Police said a total of 16 vehicles were damaged.
“Encompassing three buildings like that with no injuries on the ground is somewhat of a miracle,” said Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco.
Carlstadt Mayor Craig Lahullier said all town employees already had left for the day before the plane crashed next to the town’s public works building.
“I tell ya, it’s a miracle,” he said. “Thank God the guys were out of there, that’s all I can say.”
Town spokesman Joe Orlando said pieces of melted engine could be seen in the charred wreckage, along with wheels and part of the fuselage. Witnesses said they heard loud popping noises, apparently from car tires exploding in the heat and flames.
Orlando had left the public works building about 15 minutes before the plane hit. When he returned, he saw the plane’s engines on the ground.
“Both buildings on both sides of ours on fire, cars on fire in our lot,” said Orlando. “We thought we still had people in there.”
A Carlstadt police spokesman said the jet appeared to be listing before it crashed. The National Weather Service warned of strong winds with gusts up to 45 mph just before the plane went down.
Some residents like Carlo Cimillo, who live along the Teterboro Airport flight path, say small planes flying over their homes and community have long been a concern.
“If I was in charge of the airport, I would consider especially smaller liners, not to fly in or out of the airport,” he said.
A Moonachie resident, who was in the area when the plane went down, said for years he was on the fence about closing the airport, but not anymore, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.
“It is a commercial area but to me I think it’s dangerous because it’s also a community area as well, if I had to vote I would vote to shut the airport down,” the man said.
The jet had flown from Teterboro to Bedford, Massachusetts, early Monday morning. It then flew to Philadelphia later Monday morning before leaving for Teterboro in the afternoon.
The airport was closed after the crash. Departing flights resumed in the evening, but no arriving flights were allowed.
Teterboro, which is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the oldest operating airport in the New York City area.
The aircraft and engines will soon be moved to a secure location for further examination as the cause of the deadly crash remains under investigation, according to Sillman.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)