DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Two adults and two children were aboard small plane that crashed Friday at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport, a federal investigator said Sunday, in what was believed to be a personal family trip to Houston.
All four individuals, who have not yet been identified by authorities, were killed in the crash. No clear cause has yet been determined.
The plane was full of fuel, NTSB investigator Daniel Boggs said, resulting in the fire that incinerated the aircraft in a matter of minutes.
“They were going to Houston; Texas and they were full of fuel which is where most of the damage and fire came from," said Boggs.
Boggs said the plane had recently undergone a modification, from a Continental engine to a Rolls Royce turbine engine. He did not, however, state that the modification was suspected as a cause of the crash.
The modification was done by O & N Aircraft Modifications, a California company.
“This aircraft went through a modification that changes over from a Continental engine to a Rolls Royce turbine engine... they burn a lot more fuel because they can carry a lot more," explained Boggs.
Boggs said federal investigators would take the remains of the aircraft to a secure facility and dissect it over the coming days, going through its systems and engine to the extent possible. But that will be difficult, he said, because the plane was "severely damaged with fire."
He said a preliminary report will be available within 14 days from the crash.
The investigator said he could not release the names of the victims, who have not yet been publicly announced. He did say he believed the nature of the flight was a personal trip and not a business one.
The NTSB says complete investigations with fatalities typically take between 12 and 24 months
Boggs said the investigation will look at e everything from the weight of the aircraft, to its service history to the pilot's qualifications and even the weather, which was clear on Friday.
The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed on Friday that the plane was a single-engine Cessna 210 and said the pilot was "departing from the airport when the crash occurred."
The plane was engulfed by a fire soon after crashing.
11Alive's Crash Clark reported that witnesses said a single-engine Cessna had taken off, failed to get much altitude, and came back down.
A witness, Keith Berry, told 11Alive's Doug Richards that he was taking photographs of planes landing and taking off when he saw it happen.
"I was shooting a plane that was on the runway, and that's when you see the plane kind of bounce and flip over, and I put the camera down really quick because... I couldn't believe what I saw," he said. "It flipped over and just that quick it was on fire. I never saw it come out of the sky. I figured they were trying to take off and not landing."
He said it took just a few minutes for the fire to engulf the plane, burning away the wings and other parts.
"The heat was so hot, just burned everything," he said.
Flights and normal operations resumed at the airport Friday night.