Fatal plane crash in Connecticut was intentional, authorities suspect

Posted at 2:48 PM, Oct 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-12 16:48:32-04

By Rene Marsh, Chris Boyette and Shachar Peled

(CNN) — Investigators believe a plane crash that killed a student pilot was intentional, a federal official said Wednesday.

The Piper PA 34 twin-engine light aircraft went down Tuesday afternoon in East Hartford, Connecticut, police said. The crash happened near Pratt & Whitney, a manufacturer of aircraft engines for both civil and military aviation.

The flight instructor, who survived the crash, told first responders and investigators he got into an altercation with the student pilot, which resulted in a struggle in the cockpit, a US official with direct knowledge of the investigation said.

The official said it appeared that the student pilot, whose name was not released, was frustrated with his family and had said he was being forced to become a pilot.

No recorders or video were on board the small plane, meaning there is no direct evidence to corroborate what the flight instructor said. But based on initial interviews, authorities believe the instructor’s account is truthful and that the student pilot intentionally crashed the plane.

Instructor in critical condition

The instructor, identified as Arian Prevalla, is in critical condition, Bridgeport Hospital spokesman John Cappiello said Wednesday.

Mark Poole, owner of Meriden Aviation Center, was a former student of Prevalla’s. He said Prevalla handles most of the area’s training of twin-engine aircraft.

Poole said Prevalla’s business model focused on international students obtaining visas and providing training for commercial airline pilots.

Law enforcement officials are trying to get a search warrant to investigate the student pilot’s computer. They also plan to interview his family.

The FBI, National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and Connecticut State Police are all investigating.

Local law enforcement called in the FBI, citing infrastructure concerns due to the crash’s proximity to Pratt & Whitney.

CNN’s Holly Yan and Aaron Cooper contributed to this report.