Airplane on fire at Huntsville International Airport (Source: viewer)
The plane was registered to a Birmingham company. (Source: Nick D./Airport-data.com)
FAA and NTSB officials are investigating. (Source: WAFF)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -
An airplane ran off the runway at Huntsville International Airport Wednesday afternoon, caught fire, and crashed near a fence. Airport officials confirmed three people were killed.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a Westwind II aircraft ran off the right side of Runway 18-Right while attempting to depart from the airport at 2:25 p.m.
The aircraft caught on fire, sending smoke into the air.
Three people were on board, according to the FAA. The airport's acting Public Affairs Manager, Karen Yarborough, confirmed at a press conference that all three people were killed. Two of the three people were thrown out of the aircraft on impact.
Madison County Coroner Craig Whisenant confirmed the plane's tail number Wednesday evening. The plane was registered to Synfuels Holdings Finance LLC out of Birmingham.
Authorities will release the identities of the victims as the investigation progresses.
The Huntsville Police Department, Madison County Sheriff's Office, HEMSI and other emergency crews responded to the scene. The airport also responded with fire trucks.
The airport suspended all operations for several hours following the crash. The airport reopened around 5:15 p.m. Flights that were still in the air preparing to land at the time had to be diverted to Dallas, Chattanooga and Birmingham.
Hazel White's flight from Charlotte was on its final approach to Huntsville International when it was waved off at the last second.
"All of a sudden, you felt the plane go back up," White recalled. "You could see the treetops, then all of a sudden we just accelerated, and we knew something was going on."
Passengers on a US Airways flight diverted to Chattanooga were provided bus transportation back to Huntsville.
The FAA will continue investigating the crash site and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine probable cause. The investigation will include interviews with witnesses and reviewing data such as radar recordings and information on devices like GPS units.
The NTSB's investigator said he would probably be in a position to give a briefing on the investigation Thursday afternoon.
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