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Feds Investigate of Plane Crash, Santa Monica Airport Opponents Air Concerns

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

By Jason Islas
Staff Writer

May 1, 2013 -- Federal officials are investigating a fatal mid-air collision Monday afternoon between two single-engine planes, one of which took off from Santa Monica Airport, that left two people dead and three injured.

The crash over the Santa Monica Mountains -- which took place one day before a special City Council meeting to discuss the future of the City’s 85-year-old airport -- has led to vocal concern from airport opponents, who have cited safety as one of the reasons the airport should be closed down.

“These plane crashes occur and they can occur at any time,” said Marty Rubin, founder of Concerned Residents Against Airport Pollution (CRAAP).

Shortly after the accident, CRAAP sent out an email to its members reiterating the position that the airport is “no longer a compatible, safe, or sustainable land use that this city can continue to support.”

“Do you really want pilots using SMO for 'ENGINE TEST FLIGHTS' over our residents???” the email, which was titled “Another tragedy out of SMO,” asks.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is heading the investigation into Monday’s collision, that took place between Malibu and Calabasas. NTSB officials will move the wreckage of both planes to a nearby facility for further investigation.

“We are at the very early stages of the investigation,” said Terry Williams, a spokesperson for the NTSB.

Williams said that officials had already begun to interview the three survivors from the plane that was forced down on Westlake Village golf course after the collision. The plane reportedly landed on its wheels, injuring the three people on board.

The NTSB also will begin interviewing witnesses, officials said.

Two bodies were recovered from the wreckage of the other plane, which crashed into the mountains, but they have yet to be identified, officials said.

FAA officials reported Monday that the second plane had taken off from Santa Monica Airport for a test flight shortly before it collided with the other plane at approximately 2 p.m.

Williams said that investigators will be looking at “all factors,” including the pilots' flight records, weather conditions and airplane maintenance records.

Officials do not know whether the fact that one of the airplanes was on an engine test flight had anything to do with the accident.

According to media reports, the plane that crash-landed on the Westlake Village Golf Course bore decals from American Flyers, a national flight school with a branch at Santa Monica Airport.

Representatives from American Flyers declined to comment while the investigation was pending.

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