The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday that its investigation into a small plane crash in East Hartford, Conn. offered evidence that the incident was intentional. The agency has handed the probe over to the FBI.
U.S. authorities have begun examining potential terrorism links after the pilot, who survived the crash, told investigators that it was not an accident, Reuters reported.
The plane hit a utility pole and exploded Tuesday, killing a flight student identified as Jordanian national Feras Freitekh. The instructor is in critical condition with serious burns.
The East Hartford police initially asked the FBI to investigate the incident given the crash’s proximity to jet engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, which contracts with both the U.S. military and commercial companies.
The NTSB said in a statement that its initial investigation suggested the crash was "the result of an intentional act."
Freitekh, 28, arrived in the U.S. in 2012 after receiving a visa for flight school, the New York Times reported. He was issued a private pilot certificate that allowed him to fly single-engine planes in May 2015, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. The FBI is looking into whether he had ties to terrorism.
The plane crashed at roughly 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday as it was en route to Hartford-Brainard Airport, according to the FAA. The incident knocked out power for some 500 East Hartford residents.
Police Lt. Josh Litwin told reporters Wednesday that the plane had two sets of controls, leaving in question who was manning the plane when it crashed.
A spokesman for Pratt & Whitney told the New York Times in an emailed statement that it did "not appear at this time" that any company employees or contractors were involved in the incident.