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Three killed in Palm Beach airplane crash

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: The plane was affiliated with Florida Institute of Technology
  • A plane crashes at Palm Beach International Airport
  • Three people on board are killed

(CNN) -- A twin-engine aircraft that may have had a student pilot at its controls crashed Thursday while on takeoff at Florida's Palm Beach International Airport, killing three people and injuring one, officials said.

Airport spokeswoman Casandra Davis confirmed the casualties. The injured person was airlifted to a hospital, she said.

Davis did not know whether the Piper PA-44 Seminole, which is registered to a college, was in the air or rolling on the runway at the time of the 6:10 p.m. ET incident. The plane was destroyed by fire.

The aircraft was destined for Melbourne, Florida, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. It was registered to FIT Aviation LLC of Melbourne, an arm of the Florida Institute of Technology.

Winston E. Scott, dean of the institute's College of Aeronautics, told reporters late Thursday that two students, a flight instructor and another individual were on board. Next of kin were being notified.

The plane had flown to the Bahamas and was making a stop at Palm Beach before returning to Melbourne, Scott said. The Seminole had been recently inspected and was found to be in excellent mechanical condition, the dean said.

School officials believe a student with advanced skills was flying, with the instructor seated near by, Scott said.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash.

The airport maintained normal operations Thursday night, Davis said.