Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board have determined two small planes that collided over the Santa Monica Mountains on Monday were flying toward each other at elevations about 100 feet apart, even though the standard is 1,000. Patrick Healy reports from Malibu State Creek Park for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. on April 30, 2013.
Authorities said Tuesday that an additional body has been found in the burned wreckage of a plane hit in a collision with another small aircraft over Calabasas on Monday.
Two people died in the crash between two Cessna aircraft, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore said Tuesday. Previously, only one pilot had been confirmed dead.
"It appears that the Cessna 172 four-seater single-engine plane actually dive-bombed directly into the side of the mountain, causing a crater," Whitmore said. "The remains of two individuals are among the mangled wreckage."
The collision occurred at 2:01 p.m. Monday at an altitude of more than 3,000 feet about eight miles east-northeast of Ventura, according to data from the Federal Aviation Administration.
National Transportation Safety Board Senior Air Safety Investigator Howard Plagens said at an 11:45 a.m. news conference that one of the planes had been heading eastbound and the other westbound.
Flights rules on altitude require eastbound and westbound planes to keep at least 1,000 feet apart. However, radar data shows a separation of only 100 feet.
The first airplane, a Cessna 172RG, was headed west at 3,400 feet. It had been given clearance from air traffic control at Santa Monica Airport following its 1:53 p.m. request to depart west en route to Camarillo.
A second plane, a Cessna 172, has been in an holding pattern above Santa Monica Airport following maintenance work for several minutes. It was given permission to depart the airport heading west at 1:40 p.m.
"The targets merged at 14:01. One target went down immediately. The other drifted off to the west before dropping off the radar scope," Plagens said.
The second plane -- which had been traveling eastbound at an altitude fo 3,300 feet, according to an FAA review of radar data, Plagens said -- crashed into mountainous terrain in Calabasas, sparking a 1-acre brush fire.
The Camarillo-bound plane, meanwhile, made an emergency landing near the third hole at the Westlake Golf Course in Westlake Village. The plane remained on the course Tuesday during a continuing investigation, as seen below, before being removed in the afternoon.
Plagens said FAA officials were speaking midday Tuesday with the three people who survived in the craft that made an emergency landing. The three are believed to be flight instructors.
Investigators will examine the wreckage for signs that the planes collided with other objects such as birds. The collision angle will help determine the visibility between the two aircraft, Plagens said.
It appears weather was not a factor, but the angle of sunlight will be examined, Plagens said.
The identity, age and gender of the two people killed will be released by the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner, Plagens said.