The agents from the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General arrived about noon and were still searching the flight school's office Thursday evening. The agents also searched an apartment building on Essex Street in Hartford where American Flight Academy students live.
Hartford police Deputy Chief Brian Foley confirmed that Hartford police assisted the federal agents in serving the search warrants, but declined to comment further. State police also assisted.
A person familiar with activity at the airport said Thursday night that when the agents arrived they announced they had a warrant and asked to see everyone's ID.
"They came in and said, 'We have a warrant, stay where you are,'" the person said.
A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation said the federal agents seized paper and computer records from the flight school offices and a flight school hangar at the airport.
The FBI has been investigating the Oct. 11, 2016, crash of an American Flight Academy aircraft in East Hartford. The flight instructor, Arian Prevalla, was burned in the crash and the student, Feras Freitekh, was killed.
American Flight Academy lost another airplane and student in a Feb. 22 crash near Tweed-New Haven Airport in East Haven.
Kevin Dehghani, a lawyer for American Flight Academy, could not be reached for comment Thursday evening. The U.S. attorney's office declined to comment.
In the East Hartford case, Prevalla told investigators that the student pilot began acting erratically as the aircraft prepared to land at Brainard Airport in Hartford, and that the crash appeared to be intentional.
The National Transportation Safety Board said its initial investigation indicated the crash was "an intentional act." As a result, the FBI took over the investigation and has not released any information since.
A final NTSB report has not been produced.
Prevalla told investigators that he screamed at Freitekh to release the airplane's controls and hit Freitekh's left hand, but Freitekh's grip remained firm and he refused to relinquish control, according to police reports and sources. Prevalla told police Freitekh continued to fight with him over control of the aircraft.
Prevalla also told investigators that Freitekh was from Jordan and was training to become a commercial pilot. Prevalla is the president of the flight academy and an investor in the Hartford Jet Center at Brainard. The plane involved in the East Hartford crash was a Piper PA-34 Seneca.
Immediately after the October crash, police and federal agents searched the Annawan Street apartment in Hartford that Freitekh shared with several other foreign flight students. The FBI also seized Freitekh's electronic devices and planned to search them. Authorities interviewed Freitekh's roommates, and cleared them, sources said.
FBI agents also interviewed several foreign students living at an Essex Street apartment owned by Prevalla and cleared them.
But federal officials have never closed their investigation into the crash. They told the state medical examiner several times that their investigation was continuing. The medical examiner eventually ruled the manner of Freitekh's death would be listed as undetermined and not suicide unless new information emerged.
Original article can be found here: http://www.courant.com
HARTFORD — Federal authorities from the Department of Transportation were on the scene of a flight school that owned planes involved in two fatal plane crashes that happened four months apart.
Government agents were at the offices of American Flight School at Brainard Field on Thursday afternoon.
Connecticut State Police spokesperson Tpr. Kelly Grant said they assisted federal Department of Transportation officials in their investigation at the American Flight Academy today.
“There are no indications of what was being investigated or why.”
Instructors from the school were with students at the time of both crashes.
On October 11, 2016, a small plane crashed on Main Street in East Hartford. Feras Freitekh, the student pilot, was killed and Arian Prevalla, the flight instructor, was injured. The NTSB announced their initial investigation into the crash “indicates the crash is the result of an intentional act.”
On February 22, student pilot Pablo Campos, 31, of East Haven, died in the crashed near Tweed-New Haven airport. The flight instructor, Rafayel Hany Wassef, 20, of New London, was critically injured. The NTSB said the pilot of the plane had been practicing landings and take offs, called “touch and go’s.” The student pilot and instructor had successfully performed three touch and go’s and on the last one declared a Mayday to the tower.
Read more here: http://fox61.com
NTSB Identification: ERA17FA011
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 11, 2016 in East Hartford, CT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/28/2016
Aircraft: PIPER PA 34-200, registration: N15294
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.
NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On October 11, 2016, about 1530 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-34-200 twin-engine airplane, N15294, was destroyed when it impacted terrain near Hartford-Brainard Airport (HFD), Hartford, Connecticut. The flight instructor was seriously injured, and the private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to International Aviation, LLC, and operated by American Flight Academy as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the airport at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that departed HFD about an hour earlier.
The investigation of this event is being conducted under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The NTSB provided requested technical assistance to the FBI, and any material generated by the NTSB is under the control of the FBI. The NTSB does not plan to issue a report or open a public docket.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The NTSB did not determine the probable cause of this event and does not plan to issue a report or open a public docket. The investigation of this event is being conducted under the jurisdiction of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
NTSB Identification: ERA17FA112
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 22, 2017 in East Haven, CT
Aircraft: PIPER PA38, registration: N2452C
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On February 22, 2017, about 0957 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-38-112, N2452C, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain in East Haven, Connecticut, during the initial climb from Tweed-New Haven Airport (HVN), New Haven, Connecticut. The flight instructor was seriously injured and the student pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated by American Flight Academy as an instructional flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight.
According to preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the airplane was performing touch-and-go landings on runway 20, a 5,600-foot-long, 150-feet-wide, asphalt runway. After three uneventful landings, one of the pilots declared an emergency during initial climb by stating "mayday" on the air traffic control tower frequency, but he did not specify the nature of the emergency. The airplane then spun to the left, descended and impacted terrain about 1,000 feet southeast of the departure end of runway 20. Another flight instructor, who was also flying in the airport traffic pattern at HVN during the time of the accident, stated that he heard the emergency transmission and could hear the airplane's stall warning horn in the background during the transmission.
No debris path was observed and the wreckage came to rest upright in a marsh, oriented about a magnetic heading of north. Both wings remained attached to the airframe, with the ailerons and flaps attached to their respective wing. The ailerons were approximately neutral and the flaps were partially extended. The fuel caps remained secured to their respective wing fuel tanks and although both wing fuel tanks were breached during impact, several gallons of fuel remained in each wing. The right wing was buckled, while the left wing exhibited more leading edge damage and its wingtip was bent upward.
The empennage was curled up and to the left. The horizontal stabilizer, vertical stabilizer, rudder, and elevator remained intact. Flight control continuity was confirmed from all flight control surfaces to the cockpit area. Examination of the cockpit revealed that the seatbelts and shoulder harnesses remained intact. Additionally, the throttle and mixture levers were in the forward position and the magnetos were selected to both. The fuel selector was found positioned to the right main fuel tank.
The engine was partially buried in mud, but remained attached to the airframe and the propeller remained attached to the engine. The two propeller blades did not exhibit rotational damage. The wreckage was retained for further examination.
The two-seat, low-wing, fixed tricycle-gear airplane was manufactured in 1978. It was powered by a Lycoming O-235, 112-horsepower engine, equipped with a two-blade, fixed-pitch Sensenich propeller. Review of the airplane's logbooks revealed that at the time of the accident, the airframe had accumulated about 8,473 total hours of operation and the engine had accumulated 2,508 hours since major overhaul. The airplane had been operated for 78 hours since its most recent 100-hour inspection, which was completed on September 30, 2016.
The flight instructor held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine. His most recent FAA first-class medical certificate was issued on November 14, 2014. Review of the flight instructor's logbook revealed that he had accumulated a total flight experience of approximately 236 hours; of which, 12 hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane. The flight instructor had flown about 28 hours during the 30-day period preceding the accident.
Review of the student pilot's logbook revealed that he had accumulated a total flight experience of approximately 17 hours; of which, 15 hours were in the same make and model as the accident airplane.
The reported weather at HVN, at 0953, included wind from 210° at 5 knots, visibility 10 statute miles and an overcast ceiling at 7,500 feet.